Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 121

3__

THE LIFE
OF
S'wa m i

PURUSHOTTAMANANDA

BY A DISCIPLE

PUBLISHED BY: T. NARAYAN,


ASHOK BIIAWAN, CITY STATION ROAD, AGRA (INDIA.)

INTRODUCTION

Fourteen miles from Rishikesh, on the motor road to Badrinath, lies the cave associated with the name of Muni Vasishtha. One gets down from the bus and descends a hundred and fifty feet along a steep and rough path to reach this ancient place full of vibrations felt only by those whose innerselves are tuned to catch these spiritual currents. In this Guha, situated on the bank of the sacred Ganges and surrounded First Edition 1959. Price Rs . 2.50 by thick foliage, lives the sage whose life is portrayed in this book. With him live about a dozen spiritual aspirants, both Sannyasins and Brahmacharins, who look up to him for guidance and inspiration in their journey on "the razor's edge." It is a small community practising austerities by the side of the rippling waters of the Ganges and in the midst of rugged nature beautified by perpendicular hills and overhanging trees. The life in the Guha is simple and unostentatious, enriched by mutual service. Periods of spiritual practices are interspersed with communal meals enlivened by the humour and the child-like laughter of the sage .. Child-like ? Yes, "until ye be like little children ye cannot enter the King, Agra. EL,,, dom of God. da t the A g ra University Press P rmte

The book is written by one who belongs to this, community and has imbibed the .atmosphere of the place. The spirit of the Guha is reflected in the style of writing. It is simple , unsophisticated, gentle but catching. It imperceptibly fans the inner divine spark of the reader and caters to his spiritual hunger rather than to his craving for literary flourishes. If a few sparks are set aflame the author has successfully accomplished his work.

CONTENTS
CHAPTER PAGE

ANCESTRY ,,. BIRTH, CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION. THUNDERBOLT ,,. AN ADVENTURE .,, V GURUVAYUR ,,. VI HOME COMING & BEREAVEMENTS ,..

1 5 9 16 23 31 36 42 47 56 59 72 81 90 94 118 131 137 147 157

One, who has read the manuscript.

VII

RELIGIOUS LIFE : SRI RAMAKRISHNA MOVEMENT ... SWAMI NIRMALANANDA : HIS INFLUENCE ON NEELAKANTHAN

VIII

IX FURTHER CONTACTS WITH SWAMI NIRMALANANDA X ASHRAMA LIFE XI' SWAMI BRAHMANANDA'S VISIT AND INITIATION XII AT QUILANDY XIII GOKARNAM AND MOOKAMBIKA XIV SANNYASA XV IN THE HIMALAYAS-I XVI IN THE HIMALAYAS-II XVII FIRST FLASH OF THE ABSOLUTE XVIII VASISHTHA GUHA XIX LIFE IN VASISHTHA GUHA XX IN KASHMIR I AMARNATH XXI VASISHTHA GUHA COMING TO LIMELIGHT ...

158

XXII VISIT TO THE LAND OF BIRTH ... 168

CHAPTER
XXIIL XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII

PAGE

QUIET LIFE AGAIN S SHORT VISIT TO NEPAL SWAMIJI STARTS A SCHOOL TO KERALA AGAIN "' SHORT VISITS THE GREAT FLOOD AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS

176 179 182 187 190 197

PREFACE
In writing this book we have closely fpllowed the `Atma Katha' (autobiography) Malayalam written by Sri Swami Vurushottamanandaji Maharaj. Any additional information given in this book is F, tsed on authoritative data mostly narrated 'bySwamiji himself on one occasion or the `: ther. The chief departure from the original book is the manner of presentation of certain events which Swamiji; has not described in ,dctail. Modesty would not permit of such r a thing in one's autobiography. However, Great care has been taken to avoid any as we are fully alive to WamijL s aversion to publicity. The style and language adopted may at be up to the expected standard as we ?ve no previous experience of this kind of ork. The only purpose that this book ,Can serve is to present something of Mahaj'; life to those who cannot read the a Katha' in Malayalam. The verbs. lira translation of the 'Atma Katha' is ieyond our capacity-hence a "Life." Swamiji's 'Atma Katha' was published 1955. Chapter XXVII is added to

EPILOGUE GLOSSARY

the book up-to-date.


The 'Epilogue' includes certain views, ervations and incidents not related in

j f; r^'F

(ii)
-the 'Atma Katha'. A few of Swamiji's teachings are also added and it is hoped that . these will be of benefit to the readers. We express our gratitude to all those who took keen interest in improving the manuscript and' helped us in various ways.. All of these wish to remain anonymous. Our grateful thanks are also due to the President, Sri Ramakrishna Niranjan Ashrama, Ottapalam (Kerala), who very kindly gave us permission to quote some excerpts from their publication "Swami Nirmalananda His Life and Teachings." When the manuscript was.ready it was read and improved upon by some enthusiastic devotees. The present volume is the result of their enthusiasm and devotion. Originally it was intended that this book should be for private circulation among Swamiji's devotees who visit Vasishtha Guha, but the -devotees who helped to improve the manuscript desire that it should be made available to a larger number of people. It is our good fortune that we have been able to get Sri Swamiji's permission and blessings to publish this book.

z
CHAPTER I

ANCESTRY
The life of Swami Purushottamananda . is a life of spiritual realisation . Reticent as he is about his spiritual struggle, no body knows fully of the details of his life. However, we know something about it from his autobiography in Malayalam which he wrote, hesitantly, to keep the promise he gave to the people of Kerala during his visit to that part of the country in 1951-52. From that book the world is able to know something at least of the life of one of the greatest living saints of to-day. You have probably heard of Travancore-Travancore of many well-known names such as Srivanchirajyam, Srivazhumkode, Venad, Dharmarajyam and so on. It was known to the British, our erstwhile rulers, as the "Star of India". A land of many delights is Travancore. The rulers of this State treated their subjects with the same love which they had for their own children. Adorned with lofty mountains, navigable freshwater rivers open both to steamboats and country-crafts, expansive back waters

VASISHTHA GunA, THE AUTHOR. Rishikesh.


Guru Poornima,

the 20th July, 1959.

2
of breath-taking beauty, thick forests of rare timber densely populated with wild beasts, antique temples and churches, educational institutions, courts, roads, rail communications and picturesque tunnels , this State is an artistic synthesis of ancient natural beauty and the conveniences of the modern age. Illiteracy is almost unknown. In the centre of this region is situated the little town of Tiruvalla. The names of towns and villages in these parts are derived from the famous temples near which they are situated . At Tiruvalla there is an ancient temple dedicated to Sri Vallabha and the name Tiruvallal is derived from Sri Vallabha. About two furlongs east of this temple, near the banks of the river Chakrasala, a tributary of the Manimalayar, there is a house called Kuzhiyil Parambil Veedu. It is the home of an ancient Nair family. Many titles have been conferred on its members. Titles such as Pillai and Kurup bear ample testimony to their greatness. Nothing, however, is permanent. Owing to the irresponsible behaviour of the heads of the family, or their ignorance, the household incurred debt and the property was auctioned
1. In Malayalam and Tamil `Tiru' means ` Sri'. `Valla' is a corrupt form of `Vallabha'.

3
.'fo meet the debtors' demands. It had been a joint family for generations. However , in the year 1030 (Malayalam `Era) or 1854 A.D. their property was partitioned and two branches of the family came into being. Pappi Amma and Ummini (Rukmini) Amma were sisters. Pappi Amma had two daughters, Narayani Amma and Parvati Amma, and two sons , Govinda Pillai and Padmanabha Pillai. Ummini Amma had two sons , Kesava Pillai and Narayana Pillai , and a daughter, Kutti Amma. She received a lot of monetary help from her husband . A forefather of these ladies, the village Munsiff Govinda fe11 into debt and had to auction f' the family property save a house. The husband of Ummini Amma purchased for his wife, at a cheap price, some of the property that was auctioned. Thus Ummini Amma's family was able to live comfortably. They built a good house and lived separately. This house game to be known as the `Eastern' $uzhiyil Parambu and Pappi Amma's branch became the Western' Kuzhiyil Parambu. The latter just managed to make the two ends meet. The husking of rice for the temple requirements was done by respectable Nair families living in the neighbourhood. Pappi Amma also derived some benefits from this work.

She must have received some help from ,her husband too. She married off both her daughters. The elder died in child birth. The younger daughter, Parvati Amma was married to a Narayanan Nair who lived close to the temple. It was to these two, Narayanan Nair and Parvati Amma, that the future sage of Vasishtha Guha was born.

CHAPTER H

BIRTH, CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION


Narayanan Nair followed the hereditary occupation of doing all the miscellaneous work associated with a temple such as lighting the lamps and other similar jobs. Though he had landed property, he paid no heed to it and was content with the wages he received from the temple. Parvati Amma got a good deal of assistance from him. Narayanan Nair was a man of great devotion and asceticism. Govinda Pillai and Padmanabha Pillai, after the completion of their education, secured small Government jobs. Pappi Amma died and all the cares of the household descended on the shoulders of her daughter, Parvati Amma. Although she was illiterate, her temperament and capabilities were extraordinary. Qualities such as love of truth, kindness and self-respect were specially prominent in her character. She was extremely

6
sympathetic to the suffering of others. A long time had elapsed since her marriage but she had no child. She dedicated herself to noble deeds and prayers so that she may be blessed with a baby. Her alms giving, fasting and prayers must have been the cause of the birth of a child to her in her twenty-fifth year, on Sunday the Ninth of Vrischikam, 1055 (Malayalam Era) corresponding to the Twenty-third day of November 1879 A. D. It was on the tenth day 'after New Moon under the star Uttara Bhadrapada and in Dhanu Lagna that the child-our hero-was born. The happiness of the parents, uncles and n4ighbours can only be imagined. The boy was named NEELAKANTHAN. He was the object of love of all the members of the family.

7
prizes on the way. All the teachers had great affection for him. Neelakanthan had a friend called Kesava Pillai. Kesava's elder brother was a student of the Government English School and it was intended to send the younger brother also to the same school. One day when Neelakanthan went to his friend's house he found him learning English alphabet. Neelakanthan was imbued with a desire to learn English. Being a brilliant student he immediately mastered the whole alphabet. When he came home he told his mother of his ambition . She was glad. The next day his uncle took the two friends to the English school and had them admitted to the first standard. It was his uncle, who bore all his expenses. In this school also Neelakanthan became a favourite of his teachers. In those days this school had only four forms. After passing the fourth form Neelakanthan was sent to C. M. S. College at Kottayam, sixteen miles from Tiruvalla. There also he did well and was promoted from the fifth form to the sixth i. e. the matriculation standard. He used to live in the college hostel and came home during holidays. As facilities for travel between these places were few,

When the boy was four or five years old he was initiated into the life of a student and sent to the private school of the celebrated Velu Asan to acquire knowledge. The teacher was very fond of his pupil. Within a month or two Neelakanthan was able to read, write and to do elementary mathematics. He was, then, sent to the Government Central School. In three or four years he reached the highest class winning many

students used to walk the distance. During the vacation he walked to the college to ascertain his examination results. He passed his examinations creditably. His mother and others were very happy at his success. Ordinarily, worldly-wise people find enjoyment in building castles in the air. Parvati Amma too dreamt of luxuries and comforts . By now she had another four children , two sons and two daughters. Both the boys were clever. The parents and uncles had high expectations of their dcscendents . Neelakanthan now was to sit for his matriculation. The

were happy at the thought that


they would lack nothing, but, unextbeteElly the thunderbolt fell. After returning from college Neelakanthan had been home only a night when he felt pain in his right leg. Parvati . Emma noticed this and when she enquiied about the leg the boy passed it off :i ,htly. He concealed his trouble lest he may be detained at home and not allowed to return to Kottayam to continue his studies. Next morning, by five o'clock, he had a light meal and started on his way to the college. The pain was increa-

sing but the young and ambitious Neelakanthan ignored it. He only slackened his pace. By ten o'clock he reached Chenganassery; normally he would have reached Kottayam by that time. He was fatigued and hungry and rested on a platform under a wayside Peepul tree. At that time a Nambudiri (Malayali Brahmin) came that way and seeing Neelakanthan in a state of utter exhaustion invited him to his house for the mid-day meal. Neelakanthan was only too glad to accept the offer. Swamiji writes in his autobiography : "I have never met this gentleman since but even now I recall with gratitude his kindness and hospitality". Neelakanthan continued on his way but the progress was slow. Therefore he told his coolie to go ahead, leave the luggage in the hostel and return to Tiruvalla. Though he met the coolie on the latter's way back home, he gave no indication of the pain in his leg as he was afraid the coolie might mention it to his mother and cause her anxiety. The cause of this concealment was nothing but his great desire to continue his studies. He dragged himself to the Hindu Hostel by five o'clock in the evening. Being unable to bear the pain any longer he fell into bed. The mana-

ger of the hostel and Neelakanthan's friends gathered round him and tried to find a remedy for the excruciating pain. Under the impression that the cause of the pain, perhaps, was a sprain, they called a Christian lady to massage his leg. This only aggravated the pain. They, then consulted an ayurvedic doctor (vaidya) who felt that the massage had been harmful and advised that the patient be sent back home at once. This was the third day of his arrival at Kottayam. Such was the intensity of the pain that he could not even turn in bed. How could he return to Tiruvalla in such a ssate ? It was decided that he would have to be accompanied home. As Neelakanthan was loved by everyone in the hostel, it was not difficult to find a couple of students who were willing to take him home. By ten o'clock at night they carried him to a country boat. The next day by two in the afternoon they were at the Peringara Jetty. This place was a mile and a half from his home. How was he to cover the distance ? His companions were reluctant to inform Neelakanthan's people about his condition. One of the escorts, Velu Pillai, knew Oorayil Kesava Pillai, a friend of Neelakanthan. Kesava's house was near Neelakanthan's. Leaving him in the

12
boat Velu Pillai proceeded to Kesava's house and informed him about the situation. He was very much worried to hear the news. Velu and Kesava, after mutual consultation, informed Padmanabha Pillai, an uncle of Neelakanthan, about the boy's condition. They did not tell his mother anything about it but being an intelligent lady she guessed from their anxious faces that some trouble was in store. The night before she had strange dreams. She had a mishap too. She was carrying a jar full of oil. It fell from her hands and was shattered to bits. This was a bad omen. Padmanabha Pillai, Kesava Pillai and Velu reached the jetty with a couple of coolies and an easy chair. Neelakanthan was carried home by four in the afternoon. His mother saw him and broke down. His uncle comforted her. Neelakanthan's pain was unbearable. Even the pressure of the cot on which he lay caused pain. He had no appetite. He tried to hide his troubles from his mother and others but could not succeed. Everybody was distressed. Both his father and uncle were away from home. The former was on a pilgrimage to Rameswaram and the latter attending to official duties.

13
Neelakanthan was placed under the treatment of an ayurvedic doctor, Nanu Vaidyan of Chenganoor and, his disease was diagnosed as rheumatism. Everybody had faith in Nanu Vaidyan's treatment as he had treated and cured Narayanan Nair, Neelakanthan's father, of rheumatism. In the meantime, Narayanan Nair returned from his pilgrimage and was pained to see the condition of his son. However, he had inner strength which enabled him to endure everything. In those days ayurvedic treatment was very difficult and expensive. The Vaidyas only wrote out the prescription and the collection of various herbs and the preparation of oils, Arishtam and the like had to be done by the patient's family. But all these difficulties were overcome by the initiative and enthusiasm of Parvati Amma. She used to participate in some schemes-Chit Funds -by means of which she obtained a loan that had to be repaid in monthly instalments. Out of the sum that was thus obtained she was able to build up a degree of prosperity in the form of rice, Cash and ornaments. But her brother -squandered her money by celebrating the marriage of her daughters with a pomp and show beyond her means. Parvati

14
Aroma did not grudge this expenditure. She felt confident that when her sons grew up they would look after hr and all her needs would be provided Nevertheless her savings were gone and it was in such straitened circumstances that Neelakanthan fell ill. The anxiety and misery of his loving and devoted mother can well be mysterious Who can of the Lord are m understand them 1 The treatment showed no perceptible improvement. Other Vaidyas were, therefore, consulted. After some time Neelakanthan was placed under the treatVayaskara ment of Ashta A Vaidyas oof Kerala. the great deal of money was spent on four or five massage courses. The young patient, though an invalid, did not waste his time. From early childhood he was extremely interested in early rising, morning visits to the temples, the study of sacred texts and fasting on special days. He also listened to Srimad Bhagavatam when his father read it out to Parvati Amma. When he heard the story of Prahlada, he was filled with boundless joy and yearned for devotion as complete as his. It was not uncofor Neelakanthan to go into mmon c ecstasy on hearing devotional music and

15
Bhajans in the temple. On such occasions he used to sing and dance with joy. . His deep spirituality enabled him to bear his bodily ailments with strength. His thoughts were not for himself. He grieved more for the sorrows and sufferings of others. When the neighbours came to comfort him they found that they were the ones who went consoled. Such was the inner strength he had even in those days. While at school he had learnt a number of hymns. He had subscribed to the "Prabuddha Bharatal" and had Lead through an English translation of ,s :Bhagavad Gita. A desire arose in TAM to read it in the original and for this purpose he wanted to learn Sanskrit. It was during his illness that he could fulfil that desire. A beloved friend, K. P. Neelakantha Pillai, presented him with Bhandarkar 's Sanskrit Text-first and second parts . Within a short period he mastered the language and learnt Gita by heart. He also studied various other texts such as Bhartrihari.

1. An official organ of the Ramakrishna ion.

CHAPTER IV

AN ADVENTURE
Neelakanthan had been under treatment for five long years. Seeing his condition his parents and others were worried and their anxiety made him miserable. He could not bear to see others in trouble. After all these years of treatment he could walk only a little with the help of a stick. About this time some people came to see him and talked about the glory of the Lord of Guruvayur and how Narayana Bhattathiri, the author of the famous"Narayaneeyam" was cured of his rheumatism by the grace of that deity. Neelakanthan pondered over the possibility of visiting Guruvayur. The place was far away and it was impossible to obtain the permission of his mother. She would never agree to such an undertaking and the consequent risk. Gradually he made up his mind to go. Although physically he was weak, mentally he was very strong. He knew the route and the transport available.

One day he decided to leave at night without informing anybody. He made his preparations without anyone knowing his intentions. He tied up in a bundle two or three Dhoties, some books and a little money and hid it under his bed. He also wrote a, note saying, "For the alleviation of the misery of all of you as well as my own, I am leaving the home. Nobody need be worried." After dinner everybody retired. Neelakanthan was in a room and his parents and others were resting in the verandah and other places. When he was sure that all were asleep-it was midnight-he got up slowly, laid a pillow in his bed and covered it with a sheet. Taking the bundle and stick he slowly stepped out. He pasted the note above the door and came slowly to the road. He did not give a thought to the after-effects of his actionthe grief of his mother and others. The most predominant thought in his mind at that moment was about the relief that he would derive from his visit to Guruvayur. He prayed to the Lord and surrendering everything to His Will, he commenced his journey. He had walked about half a mile when lie saw a person known to him but fortunately he did not - notice him. The Lord helps His devotees ! He reached-,the

16

18
local temple and praying and prostrating himself before the Lord he proceeded further . It was pitch dark but Neelakanthan had no fear; he had given his mind to the Lord of Guruvayur who was constantly in his thoughts. By early morning he reached Chenganassery, famous for the Subrahmanya' temple and a Choultry2 attached to it. He rested for a while. The manager of the Choultry knew Neelakanthan and his family. When he heard that Neelakanthan had escaped from home, he threatened to inform his parents and told him to go back. Neelakanthan apprised him of the object of his trip and the manager, eventually, ceased to interfere. It was a habit with Neelakanthan, wherever he went, to go to the temple and say prayers. In Chenganassery too he wanted to go to the Subrahmanya temple. To bathe in the cold water of the tank was a problem . For more than five years he was taking bath with warm medicated water. However, he gathered courage. He bathed in the tank and visited the temple. Soon after the manager of the Choultry took him home and gave him food. Neelakanthan was hun1. Skanda, the warrior Goa.
2. Adharmasala, invariably combined with an annaksh etra.

19
gry but he found it difficult to eat. The thought of his mother and her worries choked his throat. Somehow or other he ate something and deciding to go further reached the jetty by the evening. That was a market day. Chenganassery being a. prominent market place, various articles are brought to and transported from there by boats to various neighbouring parts of the country. Neelakanthan took a boat bound for Ernakulam. He sat in a corner so that no body may notice him. He was sure that somebody from home would come in search of him. Though there were still four or five hours for the boat to leave he sat patiently in the corner to hide himself from his acquaintances and relations. In the boat he got a companion, a tall well-built person who had quarrelled with his people and was leaving home. He had no fixed plans. When he came to know that Neelakanthan was going to Guruvayur, he decided to accompany .him. To Neelakanthan his new companion was no ordinary fellow-traveller. He was God-sent. The boat sailed at nine in the night. It wa a very uncomfortable journey. Next day at noon they reached Tannir-

mukku, a place where boats are checked and toll tax collected. The passengers get enough time to have lunch. Neelakanthan and his companion went ashore to the nearby temple tank, bathed, had Darshan and purchased some fruits to eat. They had just started eating when somebody shouted from a boat, "Please catch that person. He is absconding from home. His mother and other relations are much worried. I am chasing him from Tiruvalla and he has to be taken home." Immediately some policemen surrounded Neelakanthan.and threatened to send him back home under police escort. But he was not frightened. He faced them with courage and tricked them. He told them that he was on his way to Ernakulam to appear for an examination and that if he was delayed they would have to bear the consequences. This had the desired effect. The policemen then wanted to check his luggage. They told him to open his bundle. He showed the contents. They discovered only a few books ' and some clothes but failed to notice the piece of Gerul that was there. Ultimately they believed his words and left him. It was time now for the boat to sail and everyone hurried to his seat. The boat moved
1. Geru- a colour with which dye their clothes. Sannyasins

slowly and got a favourable wind. Early next morning they reached Ernakulam. Neelakanthan was feeling uneasy from the moment he heard about the distress of his parents. Ie could well imagine the anxiety of his mother. She was very much attached to him and could not bear to be separated from him. It was with great reluctance that she had permitted him to leave home even for his education. He was greatly moved by the thought of his mother's misery caused by his flight from home in this delicate state of health. He went straight to the Telegraph office and sent a- wire home informing them that he was going to Guruvayur and nobody need be worried. Ernakulam is an impressive coastal town, but Neelakanthan was not interested in- its beauty. He enquired about the location of the temple and went straight to it. He bathed in the temple tank and had Darshan. Food packet were available at the temple. He and his companion bought one each and had their lunch. From Ernakulam they had to go to Trichur. In those days people generally used to cover the distance on foot. Horse

22
or bullock-drawn vehicles were also available. Since he had no strength to walk, Neelakanthan got into a cart with some others and started for Trichur. His companion walked by the side of the cart. Trichur was reached in the evening. They went to a hotel and leaving their luggage behind, proceeded to the temple. After bathing in the tank they attended `Deeparadhana" and returned to the hotel for dinner and rest. Early next morning they left for Guruvayur which is about twenty miles from Trichur. As they did not have enough money to hire a cart they started on foot. Neelakanthan walked very slowly, leaning on the stick and taking rest every now and then. His companion was of great assistance to him. At times he even carried Neelakanthan on his shoulders. They reached Guruvayur at five in the evening. How glad was Neelakanthan !

CHAPTER V

GURUVAYUR Neelakanthan found l his way to the eastern gate of the temple which was open. The deity, which was visible from the outside, had an aura behind it and was full of lustre. By its mere sight from a distance Neelakanthan forgot all about his ailment. Immediately he had his bath, entered the temple and had Darshan with his companion. They obtained rice packets from the temple and had dinner. The side dishes were only water and salt. But Neelakauthan felt that never in his life before had he enjoyed such delicious food. 'Hunger is the best sauce' ! After dinner they slept in the verandah of the eastern gate. Guruvayur, a small town in Malabar, is famous for its ancient temple. It is said that it was Guru (Brihaspati) and Vayu (Wind God) who installed the idol there; hence the town is known as `Guruvayur'. According to the legend, this idol was noticed somewhere in a

1. Waving of lights before the deity.

23

24
river by Guru and Vayu. They realised its special divinity and decided to install it in a suitable place for the benefit of the people. The place they selected for the purpose came to be called Guruvayur or Gurupavanapuram. The Presiding Deity is called Guruvayurappan (the Lord of Guruvayur), Gurupavanapuradhisa and so on. It was at this temple that Sri Narayana Bhattathiri of Melpattur (16th century A. D.) was cured of his rheumatism. It is said that he was suspended by a hook before the deity and used to pray in that position. It is the prayer, that welled up from the depths of his heart which .has come to be known as "Narayaneeyaml"the essence of Srimad Bhagavatam. When the hymn was completed (1588 A. D.) Narayana was a normal man, free from disease, and was blessed with a vision of the Lord. The first stanza of the last chapter begins with the words `I behold in front of me........." . This splendid hymn "Narayaneeyam" is very popular in Kerala. It is divided into 100 chapters, each chapter, generally speaking, contains ten Slokas. The chapters are called Dasakam ( :U, ). The name indicates the number of slokas in them. Some chapters, however, con1. A hymn in Sanskrit.

25

tain eleven or twelve Slokas. In all there are 1034 Slokas in the book. Every chapter ends with "O! Lord of Guruvayur, relieve me of my disease _ and protect me". What is this disease ? It is Samsar. Our body is the boat in which we have to cross the ocean of Samsar. By constant prayer and meditation both diseases, physical and Samsar, vanish. The next day after their arrival at Guruvayur Neelakanthan's companion told him that he did not wish to stay there any longer and was returning home. He had no money with him but managed to sell his ear-rings and waist chain and left Guruvayur. Tiruvalla was on his way. At the request of Neelakanthan, he promised to call at his house and inform his people of his welfare. Neelakanthan lacked words to thank God for His mercy. Was not this person sent only to escort Neelakanthan to Guruvayur ? How could Neelakanthan. think otherwise ? The ways of the Lord are mysterious indeed! Neelakanthan was now alone. His daily routine consisted of bathing in the temple tank, going for Darshan, chanting the name of God, doing,, circumambulation and the like. Somebody arranged for his board and lodging in a house

2.
near the temple. He used to take only one meal a day after the midday Puja. Neelakanthan's stay at Guruvayur was a memorable and happy period in his life. About three in the morning the chief priest, after his bath, opened the temple gates. Neelakanthan would also have his bath and enter the temple along with others for Nirmalya Darshan. The chief priest removed from the idol the sandal paste, garlands etc. of the previous day. Next the idol was given an Abhishekaml of gingelly (Til) oil. The oil was removed by applying what is called in Malayalam, Vaka2 powder. Again Abhishekam was performed with water. This sacred water is called Vakacharttu. When it falls outside through the drain from the sanctum sunctorum , people gather there to receive it and sprinkle it over their heads. In spite of his ailment, Neelakanthan managed to get through the crowd to receive the sacred water (Tirtha). After this, the idol was given a fresh water Abhishekam and parched rice was offered for Naivedyam (Bhog). Thereafter the morning (Ushah) Puja was performed and
1. Sacred bath. 2. An agent to remove oil from the body (soapnut powder).

was follow by a procession and mid-day Puja. Du ing this time Gita Govindam of Jayadeva was sung to the accompaniment of certain instruments . Narayaneeyam was also sung every day. Neelakanthan used to be present for all these Pujas and was able to learn by heart Narayaneeyam and other Sanskrit Slokas. When Ashtapadi (Gita Govindam) was sung , he was there to enjoy the spirit of it. His heart pained intensely and sympathised with Radha when the portion dealing with her pangs of separation was sung . Gradually , he learnt by heart , the whole of Ashtapadi with its meaning. Days passed on like this. So engrossed was he in things connected with the Lord e. g. doing Japa , Darshan and the like that he almost forgot his home and his people . One day, after attending the mid-day Puja, when he turned about he saw his uncle standing behind him. Neelakanthan at once prostrated himself before him . His uncle had come to Guruvayur to take him home. But all his anger vanished after having Darshan of the deity. "Is it not because of you that I. have the good fortune of having the Darshan of Guruvayurappan ?" he said to Neelakanthan. He changed his mind and instead of taking Neelakanthan away from Guruva-

28
yur, made arrangements for his comfortable stay there. How does the Lord help a sincere devotee! After a couple of days' stay the uncle left for Tiruvalla. Neelakanthan's parents, uncle and all others were comforted on getting the news of his welfare. Neelakanthan was now happy. He continued his daily routine. He bathed in the temple tank twice daily and sometimes more. He applied on his head and body the oil collected after Abhishekam. One of the servants of the chief priest assisted him. He shifted to the upper floor of the chief priest's house and lived there with the latter's servant. He got the same food which was offered to the Lord. He considered it a great privilege to get the best food-Prasadfor meals. The early morning Darshan pleases the eyes and gives happiness to the mind, making it calm and quiet. It relieves many sufferings. Neelakanthan not only witnessed some of these phenomena but was gradually experiencing them himself. One instance that occurred in his presence was the case of the gentleman, Kunjunni Nair, whose tongue was paraly sed. For several days he was brought to the temple for Bhajan. One day all of a sudden he called- out "Krishna"

29

in a loud voice. From that time on he began singing Bhajans and Kirtans and became one of the foremost devotees. When the temple opened early in the morning, Neelakanthan started singing Narayaneeyam and finished it before the mid-day Puja. During the singing he went round the temple and occasionally explained the meaning of some Slokas to a few people. Gradually the pain in his leg subsided. He started walking without the help of a stick. Early mor.ning bath in cold water, pure air, pleasant Darshan for 'the eyes, pure thoughts, listening to Bhagavatam and other texts, Japa and meditation provided the real treatment. He completely forgot his disease. His mind was always at peace and the happiness he experienced in his heart spread to the whole body. One must be extremely lucky to lead such a life. Five or six months passed in this way and then he thought of returning home. At this time an acquaintance from Tiruvalla came to Guruvayur. Neelakanthan made arrangements for his stay with himself. After three or four days the visitor fell ill. Next day erruptions appeared on his face. It was an attack

so
of small-pox, the dreaded disease. Neelakanthan's host pressed him to remove the patient from his house. What could he do? He could not abandon the victim. He removed the patient to a place underneath a small bridge to the west of the temple: Subsequently he found out a better place nearby, protected by trees, and shifted him there. Both in the morning and evening Neelakanthan brought him food and medicine. Single handed he did all types of work for him. Some Muslims living nearby took pity on Neelakanthan and helped him to nurse the patient. After a few days the sick man was alright.

I
CHAPTER VI

HOME COMING AND BEREAVEMENTS Neelakanthan made preparations to go home. Collecting some Prasad, a tin full of oil that had been poured on the deity and a few other things, he took leave of the chief priest (he being the Lord's man) and started on an auspicious day accompanied by his friend. They went to Chowghat, not far away from Guruvayur and took a boat. After two or three days they landed at their destination at about nine in the night. He sent his companion ahead with his luggage and himself walked slowly. It was nearly three in the morning when he reached home. The joy and happiness of his parents and others knew no bounds. Yes, their Neelakanthan had returned home in perfect health. But his leg (right) had become thin. After spending a few minutes with his mother and others he went to the temple of Sri Vallabha, bathed in the tank and proceeded for Darshan. It was nine o'clock when he

31

32
returned home from the temple. The news of his home coming spread soon and well-wishers started visiting to enquire about his welfare and his experiences at Guruvayur. Every one was pleased to see him free from disease. Neelakanthan was now eager to continue his studies. It was more than five years since he left school but he had not forgotten much of what he had learnt there. Enquiries from the students of sixth form about the lessons they were having gave him more confidence . With the idea of rejoining the school he proceeded to Kottayam with his father and stayed with Oorayil Kesavan Pillai, a practising lawyer and a friend of his father. Whenever it was convenient Neelakanthan used to" teach his host's nephew. Soon after his arrival he went to the school and expressed the desire to continue his studies to the then Principal, Mr. Asquith. It will be remembered that Neelakanthan was in the sixth form when he fell ill. As he had been away from school for more than five years the Principal decided to admit him to the fourth form. Neelakanthan did not relish the decision. His inner thoughts were that his old class-mates had taken degrees and finished their studies. Here was he

33 being asked to join the fourth form. He felt insulted but did not lose heart. He told the Principal that during the year that he passed the fifth form, only nine students were successful in all subjects and others were given grace marks and promoted. He was among the successful nine. On hearing this, Mr. Asquith called for the old record and went through it to verify Neelakanthan 's statement. He was satisfied and gave instructions to the Head Master to admit Neelakanthan to the sixth form. He was, however, asked to produce a medical certificate of physical fitness. Neelakanthan accompanied by his father, went to Vayaskara Moos, the Vaidyan, who had treated him. Fortunately the then Head Master, Mr. P.M. Chacko, also happened to come there at the same time. The Vaidyan assured the Head Master that Neelakanthan was physically fit. Next day he was admitted to the sixth form. Neelakanthan now put all his energy in his studies. Unfortunately, however, he failed in the examination. He was not worried in the least about the failure. Without losing hope, he started preparing for the next year's examination as a private candidate. But things took a different turn. His dear uncle passed away. To make matters worse he him-

34
self fell sick again. The same old Vaidyan treated him but he was too ill at the time of examination and could not sit for it. He gave up studies and went to G.uruvayur once again, where he spent his time in prayer, meditation and .Singing. He returned home after five .or six months. Shortly after his arrival .his father passed away. As if this was not enough, his dear mother also fell ill. Her only desire was that Neelakanthan should be by her side at the time of death. Treatment did her no good. Gradually her condition grew worse. During her early illness she used to do all the household work but she found it difficult to do so now. Ultimately she was bed-ridden. Neelakanthan was always by her side. Reading of religious books and chanting of Mantrams was done in the house. Parvati Amma was in bed only for three days. On the third night she breathed her last. Neelakanthan had all along prayed for a painless death for her. But when she was no more he was overwhelmed with grief and broke down. STT^dt

35
L T W - ; t T T f q 9 41-4 TR -4-m 1 T T MM: TIft Tq' f^ faa rrfq a^u^a^u Wff;u TAT: i i ("That great pain at the time of delivery, the distaste for food during pregnancy, the physical weakness and getting the bed soiled by the child's urine and stools-let all these be set aside. However .great the deeds of the son may be in his later life to please and give comfort to his mother, will they equal even a day's patient bearing of the son. in her womb? Salutations to that mother!") The next day the body was cremated. The obsequies were performed by Neelakanthan and his sister . His brother, a Government servant, was a little distance away from home. On receiving a wire about his mother's death he returned home and joined the obsequies . On the sixteenth day they gave a big dinner according to custom. Neelankanthan undertook the Deeksha (certain vows ) for forty days and on the forty-first day they fed the Brahmins. All the obsequies were meticulously performed so that their mother's soul -might rest in peace.

rnf 4

5i4fFrfT=Tzr

%zC 7ff a4zrT


^iTac^T-4.

I^ZT c^^ Tt u

7{c f r t T

37
ginal. Appreciating his manner of reading it, the senior lady of i"Sankaraveli House" near the temple, invited him to her home to read the Bhagavatam. He accepted the invitation. The mother and her eldest son developed great affection for him. She treated him as her own son and made him stay in her house. She became a second mother to him. But his mornings and evenings were spent at the temple. When the Bhajan party sang devotional songs to the accompaniment of instruments , Neelakanthan would go into ecstasy and would start dancing with joy. He spent an hour or two like this every day in the temple. It was at this time that Neelakanthan came in contact with Sri Ramakrishna Movement. It happened like this: The Munsiff of Tiruvalla was one M. R. Narayana Pillai. He was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and due to his initiative and enthusiasm a "Sri Ramakrishna Association" was started in 1910. Most of the members of the Association were lawyers and clerks . As they had no building of their own, they used to meet, every Sunday bight, in the house of the members by turn and conduct Satsang. Neelakanthan

CHAPTER VII

RELIGIOUS LIFE :

SRI RAMKRISHNA MOVEMENT


Neelakanthan was now free. With the passing away of his mother, there was no restraining influence on him. He could now spend as much time in religious practices as he liked. He started teaching small boys. A little later a gentleman invited him to Kallupara, a place near Tiruvalla, to teach some boys there. Slowly the venture developed into a school. But he fell ill again and returned home for treatment. It became quite evident to him that obstacles were constantly appearing in all his efforts for material progress. He was quick to understand the meaning of this and started spending his time more in prayer and meditation. He made it a regular practice to visit the temple of Sri Vallabha and do Japa, meditation and reading of scriptures there. He began reading the Bhagavatam in ori-

36

39 had a friend named Paramu Pillai.who was a clerk in'the Munsiff's court. He was a' member of the Ramakrishna Association. One day it was his turn to, arrange Satsang in his house. He invited Neelakanthan. When Neelakanthan went to his friend's house he found the members assembled there to be lifeless. There was no cheer or enthusiasm in their faces. He took his, seat. Soon after some members addressing him said, "We would like to hear something from Swamiji". Although Neelakanthan was not a Sannyasin, people used to address him as `Swamiji' out of- respect. He had a copy . of the Bhagavatam with him. He read out a portion of it and explained it to them. Swamiji remembers that portion -vividly even now. I t was this "Immediately on hearing the flute of Bhagavan the Gopis rush to Him in the forest like mad women. The Lord greets them with sweet words and rebukes them for leaving their`: husbands and. coming to the jungle. infested with wild beasts in the dead of the night. He also advises them to. return home and serve their hus bands as the husband is the Lord of a woman , and there is nothing that cannot be achieved by serving him. He appreciates their love fox Him and tells them that He too loves them.Now that they have seen Him, Bhagavan 'asks them to go home without any delay: How much distressed they became on hearing this, is beyond description. It is but natural that they. get angry with the Lord. They say in a voice choked with sorrow : '0 Lord ! taking. you to be our everything, we have abandoned all others and have taken refuge in you. Pray, do not utter these unpleasant words', and so on." Neelakanthan's explanation of the above portion brought tears to the eyes of every one present. All were touched by the exposition. At nine o'clock after Arati and distribution of Prasad the members of the Association dispersed. We have already mentioned that it was due to the initiative and effort of the Munsiff, M. R. Narayana Pillai, that the Ramakrishna Association came into existence. Naturally he was interested in all its activities. Even when he was not present at the Satsang he used to get all the information of what happened in his absence. When that evening's programme was reported to him, he became very desirous of -seeing Neelakanthan and immediately sent his,peon to fetch him.

40
Neelakanthan was about to start his regular reading of the Bhagavatam when the Munsiff's peon arrived with a lantern. Neelakanthan went with the peon. He was received with respect. A few others were also present. Narayana Pillai expressed his desire to hear the Bhagavatam and gave a text to Neelakanthan for reading. The request was complied with. Everyone present was very pleased. This was Neelakanthan's first meeting with M. R. Narayana Pillai but at this very first meeting they developed mutual love and friendship which took deep roots in their hearts. Such was the Lord's wish ! M.R.1 is no more but his loving memory has taken a permanent place in Swamiji's heart. As days passed on, Neelakanthan became indispensable to the Satsang. He became the central spirit and was ultimately made the President of the Association. A little later the Association was able to get a permanent building for its Sunday gatherings. It was a bungalow belonging to the famous lawyer Oorayil Kesava Pillai and was midway between Neelakanthan's and M. R's houses.
1. Hereafter M. R. Narayana Pillai is referred to by his initials `M. R.'

41.
M. R. now began attending the Association meetings regularly. One of the members of Oorayil's family later on embraced monastic life and is presently known as Swami Nirvikarananda.1 Due to the enthusiasm created by Neelakanthan, interest in Satsang grew and members of the Association started conducting Bhajans and discourses in their houses as well.

1. Currently head of Sri Saradashrama (of Sri Ramakrishna Math), Ponnampet, Coorg.

the Subrahmanya temple , where Swami Nirmalananda was staying. On, enquiry they learnt that Swamiji was taking rest after meals. They waited for him. At four , in the afternoon he came to the hall where a special seat had been , arranged for him under a small Mandap. A tall body, brilliant eyes, great energy and strength , courage, and attractive personality - this was Swami Nir malananda. He looked like a lion. Everybody ' s eyes were fixed on him., Swamiji was greeted-. His lustrous eyes looked round the hall and then he took his seat. Neelakanthan and M. R. sat on a bench along with others. Neelakanthan was 'beyond himself with joy. He had read the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and had taken him as an ideal . for his own spiritu .l endeavour . Sri Ramakrishna had left his physical body long back and seeing him in flesh and bone was out of question . However, a few of . his direct disciples were there and by coming in contact with them, one could establish indirect contact with the, Saint of Dakshine^swar . Neelakanthan had longed for To-day he was such an opportunity . sitting in front of a disciple of the Great

44
Master. He was overcome with joy. But the consciousness of his own position made him nervous. He was a poor man, not fit even to go near Swamiji. He had nothing to offer, except a Tulsi Mala. "Would Swamiji accept that ? How will I get an opportunity of touching his feet ?" He was immersed in these thoughts when Swamiji, pointing to him, asked "Is he not a devotee ? " That was enough for Neelakanthan. He was imbued with courage and immediately brushed aside all idle thoughts. He got up, sprang to the dais and prostrated himself at Swamiji 's feet. In fact it was not a prostration, he put his head in Swamiji's lap. Without realising it, he was placing all his burdens on Swamiji-not merely his head. It is his conviction that his head is in Swamiji's lap even to-day. It is not easy for one to realise the depth of such devotion to the Guru. Neelakanthan felt that he was received as a young child by a loving father and with that thought all his worries vanished. This incident is reported' as under: " ...ne among those p resent uttering the words ` Neelakantha Bhakta makes his Pranama ' leapt up
1. See "Swami Nirmalananda : His Life & Teachings "- page 63.

45
to the Swami at one bound and fell down near him lost in devotion....... Swamiji spoke highly of him and called him Bhakta, a name by which he was known afterwards till he took up Sannyasa." An address of welcome was presented to Swamiji. He spoke very little on that day. He said, "It is not because of any virtue in me that you have received me so warmly and honoured me. I do not possess any good qualities; I am an insignificant creature. All your affection and love for me are due to the grace of Sri Guru Maharaj." When he uttered these words his eyes were filled with tears. Yes, fortunate are those who have true and sincere devotion to their Guru. After his speech, the meeting dispersed. Everybody was glad to have had the opportunity of seeing and hearing a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. The next day there was a Bhajan programme and a procession. Neelakanthan took part in both. The same day, in the evening Swamiji delivered a long speech before a big gathering. At night when Neelakanthan went for Darshan, Swamiji talked to him affectionately and asked him to sing a song from Gita Govindam which he did. Swamiji was very pleased and enjoyed it very much.

44(i

Before -he left for Bangalore, Swami Nirmalananda called Neelakanthan aside and advised him to go back to Tiruvalla and work for the improvement of the Association there. He also gave a new name to him. Neelakantha Pillai became Neelakantha Bhaktaft and felt himself a new man. After returning to Bangalore, Swamiji continued to write and give instructions to him on various matters.

CHAPTER IX

FURTHER CONTACTS WITH SWAMI NIRMALANANDA Once M. R. and Neelakanthan started -on a pilgrimage of the important places of India. Their first halt was Bangalore where they intended to stay with Swami Nirmalananda. The Ashram there was very well maintained. Both of them stayed there for a few days. Just then Swamiji had to go to Ooty in response to an invitation. He took M. R. and Neelakanthan with him. A fine bungalow had been arranged for their stay. Swamiji delivered lectures and gave discourses almost everyday. Neelakanthan was very pleased to be with Swamiji as he could serve him and learn from him. He could also know the various aspects of the personality of that great man. Swamiji was an expert in everything and a hard task-master.. He would not tolerate any laziness or leniency. At the same time he was very kind-hearted. A few events that happen-

47

48
ed during their stay at Ootacamund and made deep impression on Neelakanthan are given below: One day Neelakanthan was returning from bazar . It started drizzling. As he had no umbrella he got drenched and was shivering with cold. Swamiji had made a fire . Seeing Neelakanthan at a distance, he called him, made him change his clothes and sit beside him. Neelakanthan was touched by his kindness . He sat there and enjoyed the warmth. Seeing others putting wood on the fire , he also began to do so. Swamiji ' s mood changed all of a sudden because he did not like the way in which Neelakanthan arranged the firewood. He rebuked him for his clumsiness . Swamiji was not only aesthetic but also thorough . He could not tolerate inefficiency. After some time he brought a loaf of bread and asked. Neelakanthan if he knew how to toast it. Neelakanthan had already been taken to task for inefficiency . He was afraid to give an answer in the negative . Swamiji guessed his mental condition and himself cut the loaf into slices and toasted them. He spread butter over them and gave them to all present with tea . Addressing Neelakanthan he said:

49
"Sannyasins should know how to do all their work in a perfect manner. If they are unable to do their own work how can they become good Sannyasins ? You people may be thinking that Sri Ramakrishna was an idiot and knew nothing. And this may be your idea of Sannyasa also. Well, well, he was a Master in every respect. He used to watch our actions very minutely and correct us then and there. When clothes were washed and put out for drying, lie would come and teach us how to spread them without any wrinkles, and with all the corners levelled.
"Although Sri Ramakrishna was continuously in Samadhi he noticed everything. Whether it was cleaning of vessels or sweeping of floor or cutting of vegetables, nothing was insignificant for him. If you can do small jobs to perfection, you can reach perfection in your life too and you will obtain extraordinary strength and wisdom to do any job well. One day 'one of our Guru-bhaisi brought an iron pan. As he was a simpleton the merchant cheated him by giving him a pan that was cracked. When Sri Ramakrishna
1. Brother-disciples.

50
saw it, he took it in his hands and sounded it with a finger to show that it was cracked. He also reproached him for being careless and sent him back to the shop to get it changed." Neelakanthan listened to all these things carefully. They helped him in moulding his character. Many of these utterances were unpalatable to him at that time but as days passed on he realised the utility and value of such advice. The hearts of great men are said to be 'harder than the Vajramr and softer than flowers'. It was the same with Swami Nirmalananda. Coming back to our story, Swamiji advised M. R. and Neelakanthan not to waste their time in going round places but to return home. So they cancelled their plan and returned-M. R. to Trivandrum and Neelakanthan to Tiruvalla. Neelakanthan now took more interest in religious practices. He spent more of his time in Bhajan and meditation. Very often he was invited to nearby places for reading the Bhagavatam. One day he got news that Swamiji was visiting Trivandrum on the invita1. An adamant weapon

51
tion of Dr. Tampi under whose Presidentship a Vedanta Society had been established there. M. R. was the Munsiff at Tiruvalla. In consultation with him two representatives were sent to Trivandrum to invite Swamiji to Tiruvalla. The representatives met Swamiji and told him that attempts were being made to establish a Math at Tiruvalla. Swamiji was pleased to hear the news and accepted their invitation.

When the representatives returned and narrated what they did' at Trivandrum, M. R. and others were surprised. Nobody had even dreamt of establishing a Math at Tiruvalla, but there was no getting out of it now. So M. R. and Neelakanthan approached the chief of the Paliakara Palace and explained everything to him. He promised to give a plot of land for the Math and the next day he got the transfer deed registered. It was decided that Swamiji should lay the foundation stone of the Math building and also preside over the Association's anniversary celebrations. In the meantime Swamiji had reached Haripad. Neelakanthan and M. R. went there to meet Swamiji. They requested him to accept their proposals. He very kindly agreed.

52
Swami Nirrnalananda arrived at Tiruvalla by boat on the' day fixed for the function. A large gathering welcomed him at the landing place. From there he was taken to M. R.'s house in a procession. Althoug a carriage had been arranged for him, Swamiji preferred to walk the distance of two miles. After taking rest for a while Swamiji laid the foundation stone of the proposed Ashram al. In the evening he presided over the anniversary celebrations of the Ramakrishna Association at the M. G. M. High School. The elite of the town was present to hear Swamiji. After the welcome address, Neelakanthan was to read a paper on Sri Ramakrishna. Although he was extremely busy he had managed to finish the paper a day before the function. When the time came, he went to the dais, touched the feet of Swamiji in reverence and read out the paper. Never before had he addressed such a vast gathering. He was sure neither of himself nor of his paper. But when he finished speaking Swamiji said to him, "Bhakta, the audience listened to your paper with keen interest and attention . Get it printed for distribution." 1. On October 28, 1911,

53
He was glad that he acquitted himself well. Swamiji gave a stirring lecture and afterwards invited questions from the audience. There were many interesting questions put to him and he answered them to the satisfaction of all.
The same night the Swami, accompanied by Neelakanthan, left for Kottayam where he addressed a big meeting. From there he proceeded to Bangalore. Neelakanthan expressed a desire to accompany him but Swamiji told him to go back to Tiruvalla and attend to the early completion of the Ashrama building.

Swamiji next laid the foundation stone of the Ashrama at Haripad. Neelakanthan went to Haripad a few days ahead of Swamiji's arrival. There was group meditation every day to which only a few sincere aspirants were admitted. Early in the morning Swamiji took his seat and all others sat facing him. The door of the room was closed. Every one meditated in silence. After sometime Swamiji chanted "Om" and brought the meditation to a close. Neelakantha Bhaktan was one of those selected for these classes. Neelakanthan spent much of his time with Swamiji. Sometimes he would act

55
as an interpreter for the visitors who did not know English. (Swamiji did not know the local language, Malayalam. He hailed from Bengal). When young students came to see Swamiji, he would tell Neelakanthan, "Look here, Bhakta, these are very good boys. You must train them to lead a religious life". Many of those boys who came in contact with Neelakanthan later became Sannyasins. The day fixed for laying the foundation stone arrived. Early in the morning a procession started with the photographs of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda on the back of an elephant, to the site of the proposed Ashrama. After an elaborate programme of scriptural recital, Swamiji laid the foundation stone. A few days later Swamiji left for Kanya Kumari and from there returned to Bangalore. The construction of the Ashrama at Haripad was nearing completion. Swamiji desired that the Ashrama at Tiruvalla should be completed by the same time, if possible, so that he could perform the opening ceremonies of both in one visit. When the buildings were ready, Swamiji, accompanied by Swami Vishuddhanandal, visited Haripad and
1. Currently Vice -President of Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission.

performed the Installation Ceremony on an auspicious day. From Haripad both the Swamis reached Tiruvalla and on an auspicious day (May 9, 1913) Swami Nirmalananda performed the Consecration Ceremony of the Tiruvalla Ashrama. Swamiji advised Neelakanthan to stay in the Ashrama to attend to Puja, to train boys and to disseminate religious knowledge. He was himself to live on Bhiksha.

57
visits to the Ashrama he used to watch everybody closely, particulary Neelakanthan. If anything went wrong, Swamiji roared like a lion, but in his heart of hearts he had nothing but love for all. It was in the interest of the aspirants that he treated them in this manner. And Neelakanthan was no exception to this rule. At times the use of a cane was also resorted to by Swamiji. One incident of Swamiji's strictness may be narrated. It was Swami Vivekananda's birthday. There was a public meeting which was presided over by Swamiji. As the Secretary of the Ashrama, Neelakanthan read the report. Neither the tone nor the contents of the report were liked by Swamiji. After the meeting all came to the Ashrama. Many people, who had great regard for Neelakanthan, were present. Neelakanthan offered a cup of coffee to Swamiji who started roaring like a lion : "What! you are posing yourself as a Bhakta. You are a false Bhakta. Try to become a true Bhakta. Why do you care for these Ashramas made of stone and timber ? Build an Ashrama in your own heart and install Sri Guru Maharaj' there". These were very valuable and instructive words but Neelakanthan did
1. Sri Ramakrishna as he is referred to in the Ramakrishna Math & Mission circles.

CHAPTER X

ASHRAMA LIFE
Neelakanthan was pleased to get a place where he could do his Japa and meditation as he liked. Another old desire of his was fulfilled in the Ashrama. During his boyhood whenever he visited Sri Vallabha temple he felt a strong desire to do Puja with his own hands. But this was not possible as the Puja was to be performed by the Pujari only. That desire of his found fulfilment here, now that the Puja was entrusted to him. Neelakanthan was very happy during this period. Often he visited nearby places to spread the message of Dharma. Occasionally he used to address the students to instil in them Sraddha and make them conscious of their duty. Swamiji used to visit Tiruvalla every year for the annual celebrations. The birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda were celebrated during Swami Nirmalananda's visit. During his

56

58 not like them at all. His false pride was wounded. He realised the value of these rebukes only in later life. The Ashrama was not a very comfortable place for Swamiji, still he stayed there for nearly a week whenever he came to Tiruvalla. Neelakanthan was aware of the inconvenience caused to Swamiji but he was helpless as there was no reserve fund with him. It was with difficulty that the day-to-day business of the Ashrama was managed. One day he approached a land-lord and expressed his desire of expanding the Ashrama. The latter was pleased and offered a plot of land, free of cost, in Tukalasseri, not far from the Ashrama. The plot was registered in favour of the Ramakrishna Ashrama. When Swamiji visited the plot, he liked it and was glad. To please Swamiji, Neelakanthan put his heart and soul in improving the Ashrama. He himself was very happy as he had full liberty to worship and perform duties connected with Puja.

CHAPTER XI

SWAMI BRAHMANANDA'S VISIT AND INITIATION


One or more people often play a part in moulding the life of a Sadhaka (spiritual aspirant). In the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Bhairavi Brahmani came to him and guided his spiritual practices along a particular line. Again Totapuri played a greater part by instructing and initiating him into the Advaita philosophy, culminating in Nirvikalpa Samadhi which Sri Ramakrishna attained within an incredibly short time. Similarly in the life of Neelakanthan (Swami Purushottamananda) we see Swami Nirmalananda's influence. A fillip was now given to the spiritual development of Neelakanthan. This was done by Swami Brahmananda, known as Rakhal, the spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Brahmananda was reverently called "Sri Maharaj". He was the first President of Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission. The visit of the President Maharaj and the

59

"In 1916 Swamiji wrote to us that he was intending to take the President Maharaj to Cape Comorin. I was asked to come directly to Alwaye to pay my humble respects to him and to serve him. So I reached Alwaye. One evening the President Maharaj and party alighted at the Alwaye station. Padmanabhan Tampi and others had arranged a bungalow for Maharaj for his stay for two or three days. "I had been serving Swami Nirmalananda for a number of years, but he had not spoken a word about Mantram or meditation. Now the words came from his mouth: 'Bhakta! Your God has arrived. You serve him and get yourself initiated.' "I was busy with all kinds of things, for we wanted to see Maharaj comfortable. Whenever I found time I used to go and sit at his feet. When I looked at him I was not able to take my eyes off him. At that time I could not understand what it was that attracted not only my eyes but the whole body. He was a fountain of spirituality , always in Samadhi.

61
His words were few and simple but full of power. He used to ask me, `What do you want, What do you want?' When I looked at him eagerly I did not know what I wanted. I only requested him to give me the slippers he was putting on. He told me, `I shall not give you these leather ones. I shall be sending you from Calcutta the wooden sandals I was using.' The present P^-esidenti, Swami Sankarananda,was acting as the Private Secretary to Sri Maharaj at that time. Maharaj asked him not to forget to send the wooden sandals to me and they were duly sent. I took them with me wherever I went and now they are in the Ashrama of Tiruvalla. I kept them there intentionally for the progress and prosperity of that place. "At Alwaye many people came to talk to Maharaj, but he avoided talking. He sent them to Swami Nirmalananda. He liked the place very much specially the view of the river even when it rained. `From Alwaye we left for Kottayam. Sri Padmanabhan Tampi, the Superintendent of Police and M. R. Narayana Pillai, the Munsiff and others were with Maharaj. We proceeded to
1. Since 1951.

62
Kottayam by steam-boat. Because of bad weather the boat tossed up and down. We had a restless night, but we reached Kottayam the next morning safe and sound. Maharaj used to say to me, 'Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid.' "Sri Tampi had arranged a place for the stay of Maharaj and party. After a stay of two days Maharaj left for Haripad Ashrama by car with his Private Secretary and Tampi. On the way he was received at several places in the old Hindu style with Deepas and Arati. "When he reached Haripad, Brahmachari Chellappa and others were eagerly waiting to receive him in the Vedic fashion with recital of Vedic Mantrams music and other ceremonies but Maharaj did not want all that pomp and show. He exclaimed `What! Am I going in a marriage procession?' "From Kottayam I went to Haripad by steam-boat with Swamis Durganandaji, Bhumanandaji, Yatiswaranandaji,l Brahmachari Gopal and others. We reached the Ashrama late at night. Maharaj was resting. I went and prostrated myself before him and carne
1. Currently head of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Bangalore.

63
away slowly. Subbaraya Iyer, the Manager, had made all arrangements 'according to the instructions of Swami Nirmalanandaji, and Maharaj had a quiet time at the Ashrama. He liked the place very much. "On the next day after his arrival, Swamiji said to me 'Now, Bhaktan, Maharaj has kindly agreed to initiate you to-morrow, so be ready. Do not take anything at night and also in the morning till the initiation.' Next morning I was ready. The initiation was to take place inside the shrine. Sri Maharaj had already taken his seat. Sankaranandaji Maharaj was standing at the door. That scene is still vividly present before my eyes. Swami Nirmalanandaji sent for me and Sankar. anandaji led me in. What did I see? Dakshinamoorti Himself in His effulgent dignity and silence to bless all! I fell down at his feet. After the preliminary rites and Achaman he put the sacred Mantram into my heart. I was overwhelmed and felt 'Dhanyoham,l Dhanyoham', placed my humble offerings at his feet and came away quietly only to sit and forget myself in the room of Sri Maharaj for hours together. On the same day many others were initiated including Subbaraya Iyer.
1. 'I am blessed'.

64 "Maharaj was quite happy at the Ashrama. Brahmachari Chellappa wanted to make Maharaj stay longer at the Ashrama but he could not. After three or four days Maharaj and his party left Haripad for Quilon at the request of Dr. Tampi who was then practising as a doctor there and had taken initiation from Sri Maharaj several years back.
"Again we went by steam-boat. Maharaj was there to make us all quite happy and cheerful. A palatial building was taken for Maharaj's stay. Lots of people used to collect there but Maharaj wanted to avoid the crowd. Dr. Tampi was all attention to Maharaj. Without giving previous information Maharaj himself visited the doctor's house one morning. The doctor and his faimly were pleasantly surprised and were overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Their home was purified.

65 left Quilon earlier and we followed later. There was a grand reception at Trivandrum which I missed. The house was illuminated. "The Vedanta Society had acquired a plot of land higher up at Vattiyoor Kavoo for a Ramakrishna Ashrama. Sri Maharaj was to lay the foundation stone on an auspicious date. The place was some four or five miles distant from the town, and very quiet. In those days very few cars and vehicles were found on the road. Many people wanted to attend the function. Swami Nirmalananda reached the place on the previous night and had some Puja and Homa performed. Early in the morning Maharaj reached the place by car. We all followed, some walking and others in tongas. There was a large crowd there. It was a grand sight to see Maharaj laying the foundation stone with his own hands. Prasad was distributed. A photograph also was taken. This can be seen at some of the Ashramas. Maharaj was very much pleased. The site was quiet, fitted for Sadhanbhajan. "All were leaving one by one. I was standing close to Maharaj. He was

"From Quilon we went to Trivandrum. A set of devotees had gone ahead to see to the arrangements of Maharaj's stay there. Trivandrum had a Vedanta Society and one Padmanabhan Pillai, who had returned from Germany, took great interest in it. Maharaj, with the Private Secretary and Swamiji

66
very happy and said to me, `Bhakta, you see what a beautiful site this is. You must make some Brahmacharins. When the building is complete let them stay here and do.Tapasya-very nice place for Tapasya,' Swami Nirmalananda worked hard and a beautiful Ashrama has sprung up there.
"Maharaj's sole object of coming to the South was to have Darshan of the Mother at Kanya Kumari (Cape Comorin). So he hurried to that place. He had to leave Trivandrum early. He reached Kanya Kumari by car. We all followed him. Maharaj and a select party were accommodated in a two-storeyed building while we all stayed at the Government Dharmasala nearby. One evening he visited the temple; calm and quiet he entered and approached nearer and nearer to the image of the Goddess. Inside all was lighted; music and Arati were going on, we saw Maharaj doing Franamas with folded hands. He was absolutely silent, his face beaming with light and happiness. Eeen a layman feels happiness and pleasure in the presence of the Goddess. It is such a fine image, one of the most beautiful. He wanted to be there for a

67
long time. But the Puja system is such that one cannot be allowed to remain in that divine presence for a long time. "Maharaj was preparing to go back to his residence. He saw many Kumaris (girls) approaching him. He was all love and kindness to the little ones. Swamiji was close to him with a full purse. He knew Maharaj's nature. He gave to Maharaj coins after coins and Maharaj distributed them among the little ones."
"Maharaj must have stayed there for a week or so. Every time he went to the temple he gave money to all. He enjoyed the company of the little girls. He fed them at times. He had Kumari Puja done. He was interested in their play and dancing. He too behaved like a child. He was child-like but also a terror to all. His mere presence made everything go on well automatically. He was not at all willing to leave Kanya Kumari. He once told me, `Bhakta, I do not want to go back to Calcutta at all. Ah ! I wish I could get a small Kuti (hut) and live here the rest of my life.' What a spirit of renunciation ! This is the characteristic of the truly great.

Though he was a Raja he cared little for his possessions. He was like a lotus leaf in water. "In Kanya Kumari too there were many who were very desirous of getting initiation from Maharaj. This was not easy. Somehow or other he did not like it. Swamis Nirmalananda and Sankarananda had to plead the cause of some. Seshadri and Padmanabhan Pillai were the fortunate ones who got it. Seshadri is still living a happy life at Tiruvalla, but Padmanabhan Pillai is no more. "All were happy at Cape Comorin, especially Sri Maharaj. But some were not satisfied with the food. It was very difficult then to get food there. Prices were also very high. "Maharaj and party were about to leave The Cape. Thanu Pillai, the Engineer at Nagercoil, requested Maharaj to break journey and spend a night there. So we all halted. Next morning he left for and reached Quilon. He stayed at the same bungalow that was arranged for his stay on the previous occasion. There were regular festivities every day. The doctor was very anxious to serve Maharaj in every possible way.

70
"Maharaj was a majestic and lovable personality. All his movements were full of grace and dignity. I wanted to serve him. But how could I do it ? I did not know. One Swami Bhumanandaji was once applying oil to his body. I too approached and began to do the same and Maharaj remarked `Bhaktan is painting. The oil must be rubbed with constant pressure'.

71 to about fifteen persons. Swami Bhumanandaji asked for some salt. By mistake Neelakanthan served him sugar. The Swami was normally kind and loving but at this occasion he started scolding him loudly, "What! I asked you for salt and you are giving sugar...." Neelakanthan was hurt but kept quiet. Swami Nirmalananda, however, came to his rescue and roared like a lion "What! Have you no eyes to see? Serving and serving, he is reduced to a skeleton. He might have made a mistake but this is not the way to treat him." All were silenced. This shows how Swamiji loved Neelakanthan even though he did not spare him sometimes for mistakes. Once at Kanya Kumari, Swamiji read Neelakanthan's palm and predicted: "Bhaktan will go into a cave and go on meditating and meditating." How true this prophecy has turned out to be! Maharaj was always in Sahaja Samadhi (an uninterrupted state of realization). Whenever Neelakanthan went to him, he said "Meditate, meditate, no time to lose." Now he (Swami Purushottamananda) is in that state and advises everybody to meditate always. A true disciple of a real Guru!

"Here I stop. What more is there to state. Auer leaving Maharaj I was without spirit for many days but gradually recovered. Now Sri Maharaj is in his own Dham." Thus we see what happy days Neelakanthan spent in the company of his Guru, Swami Brahmanandali Maharaj. From beginning to end he looked after every comfort of Sri Maharaj and party. Maharaj was easily pleased with anything, but it was not so with some of the young Sannyasins who were with him. Neelakanthan had his meals after serving food to everybody. Sometimes there was nothing left for him. At such occasions he quietly went to the nearby hotel to take some food but never complained. He was always at their service. Once, while they were camping at Quilon, he was serving food single-handed

CHAPTER XII

AT QUILANDY
After leaving Sri Maharaj and his party, Neelakanthan returned to Tiruvalla and continued to look after the affairs of the Ashrama. Swamiji was anxious to complete the Ashrama at Trivandrum very quickly so that its opening ceremony could also be performed by Sri Maharaj. Finding that the progress there was not satisfactory, he wrote to Neelakanthan to go to Trivandrum and work up enthusiasm among the local devotees. Neelakanthan proceeded to Trivandrum. He stayed at the site selected for the Ashrama. His presence had the desired effect. Every one started working briskly and within three or four days of his visit the work on the Ashrama was started. Being satisfied with the progress of the work he returned to Tiruvalla and informed Swamiji about the work done. He was very pleased with Neelakanthan for his organising ability and capacity to create enthusiasm among devotees.

Soon after Swamiji paid a visit to Tiruvalla and proceeded to Trivandrum to see the progress of the Ashrama. Neelakanthan was with him. They stayed at the site of the Ashrama. Looking around the place he said to Neelakanthan "Bhakta, look here, what a lovely and beautiful place this is ! We can sing loudly the glories of the Lord and dance. Nobody to watch. What a peaceful atmosphere for meditation !" How inwardly calm and quiet was Swamiji although he busied himself in all sorts of activities ! It was about this time that he decided to transfer Neelakanthan to Quilandy where they had acquired an Ashrama. Let us see in what state the affairs of the Ashrama were and what was the task Neelakanthan had to perform. Quilandy is a small town in North Malabar. A few local enthusiasts had established a Yoga Math. There was a Sanskrit school attached to it. They offered both the institutions to Swamiji in 1915 and since then the place came to be known as "Ramakrishna Ashrama." Its management, however, continued to be looked after by the former officebearers. The previous chief of the Math was still living on the premises with three or four Brahmacharins. He was

a householder ;. his wife was staying in a house closeby . He treated the Brahmacharins as his servants . The affairs of the Ashrama were in a very bad way. Although it had become a Ramakrishna Ashrama , its control was still in the hands of the former chief. It was to take over control of the institution and to run it efficiently that Swamiji sent Neelakanthan there. Neelakanthan welcomed Swamiji's decision . He had been in his native place for a long time and looked forward to a change . The inspiration that he received from Swamiji gave him the necessary strength to effect a smooth transfer of the control of the Math. He had immense faith in Swamiji. On his way he halted at Parappanangadi and stayed with Kunhirama Menon, a devotee of Swamiji . After two or three days' stay there , he reached Quilandy. On seeing him from a distance a Brahmacharin of the Ashrama ran up to him and prostrated himself before him. Getting up , he climbed a cocoanut tree like a rocket and came down with a tender cocoanut . He cut it and offered it to him to quench his thirst. Neelakanthan proceeded to the Ashrama and met the manager , the teachers and others . Though all received him courteously they were quick to scent the

purpose of his visit. Neelakanthan had no fear; he had courage enough to do anything for Swamiji. Next day, he turned his attention to education. He talked to the teachers and students. Everybody liked him. He started teaching himself and slowly the number of students increased. Eventually he became the Headmaster. Soon after the Government Inspector visited the school. He was pleased and the Government grant to the school was increased. Gradually the manager handed over charge to Neelakanthan and left the Math but came there off and on to enquire about the affairs. The other officebearers were jealous of Neelakanthan; they did not like the intruder and were scheming to oust him. To achieve their object, they wanted to provide accommodation in the Ashrama to a Guru of theirs. When they spoke about it to Neelakanthan he replied that he would not allow anybody to stay in the Ashrama without Swamiji's permission. This only enraged them but they could do nothing. Gradually the Brahmacharins also left the Ashrama. Neelakanthan was left alone. Single -handed he had to perform Puja, prepare food, go to the market for purchases, and manage

77 76
but he never failed in his the school , duty. One day a student of his told him secretly that the former office-bearers were planning to take control of the Ashrama by force. They had met the day before at a tea -party and had discussed the whole plot. They were to take over the Ashrama on that very day. Neelakanthan, however, had some urgent work and had to go to the post office. It generally took him an hour and a half to go there and return. He told the boy that he was not worried about it; and started for the post office. Not to give them the trouble of even opening the gate, he left it open aid went. When he came back, to his surprise, he found everything as before. He had left everything in Swamiji's hands. His faith in Swamiji increased beyond measure. He felt that Swamiji was always with him. Another test to which he was subjected during this period was connected with food. It was the period of World War I. The prices of all commodities had increased. It became difficult to provide food for four or five people who lived there. At times he was obliged to go without food. Things were so difficult that he shed tears on many occasions . But the situation did not last long. By God's grace the difficulties were surmounted within a short period, It was during his stay at Quilandy that Kunhirama Pathiyar, the lawyer, joined the Ashrama. He was a devotee and a man of renunciation . He started teaching the students and wanted to be in the Ashrama for ever but circumstances forced him to go home. Later on, he became the Principal of the Sanskrit College at Pattambi and finally renounced everything and became a Sannyasin. He is known as Swami Chinmayananda. Swamiji also used to send young Brahmacharins to Quilandy for training under Neelakanthan.
Although Neelakanthan was getting letters regularly from Swamiji, his desire to stay with him was increasing day by day. He knew well that if he asked for permission to visit Swamiji it would be refused. However, he took courage and wrote to Swamiji in verse stating that he was starting for Bangalore. Entrusting the Ashrama to the charge of a Brahmacharin, he left Quilandy, and reached the Ashrama at Bangalore with a few presents for Swamiji. He had no courage to enter the Ashrama through the front gate for he knew Swamiji ' s nature. So he entered the compound and slowly walked up to Swamiji from behind.

Swamiji was working in the garden after his morning coffee. Neelakanthan was trembling with fear. Somehow he picked up courage and prostrated himself before Swamiji. "Who told you tocome here?" shouted Swamiji and started reciting Neelakanthan's verses in an apparently angry tone. One can understand the plight of Neelakanthan. He was in a fix. He did not know what to do. He could not see the inward love of Swamiji; he only saw his outward behaviour. Slowly he walked out of the compound. A vast waste land with no buildings lay in front of him. He felt helpless and deserted. His firm faith in the Lord, however, restored his courage and he returned to the Ashrama. In the meantime Swamiji was enquiring from everybody where Bhaktan was. When he saw Bhaktan coming inside the Ashrama he was glad. Neelakanthan's desire to stay with him found fulfilment. Swamiji used to treat him affectionately and give him instructions about various matters. Once he asked Neelakanthan to write letters to certain devotees. He made him sit in his own rolling chair and dictated the letters, standing nearby. Neelakanthan, out of respect, would not sit in the chair but Swamiji dragged him and made him sit

there. That was the love he had for Bhaktan. Neelakanthan had been there for a few days. One day Swamiji told him that the people of Tiruvalla were hankering for him (Neelakanthan) and suggested that he should go and take charge of the Ashrama there. Neelakanthan agreed and in obedience to Swamiji's orders left Bangalore. On the way he got down at Quilandy and distributed Swamiji's presents to the inmates of the Ashrama. He now changed his mind. Tiruvalla, he thought, was his native place. Everybody knew him there. If he went there again, he would not get sufficient time for his own Sadhana. Swamiji's rebukes also came to his mind. He decided not to go to Tiruvalla. Two or three days later he wrote a letter to Swamiji, the contents of which, in brief, ran like this:
"I am going not to Tiruvalla but to Gokarnam where I intend to do Tapasya for some time. Whatever l have done so far was only to please Swamiji. With Swamiji's blessings I am going now to Gokarnam. All is false and I cannot rest satisfied until and unless I come face to face with the truth."

80
Only after posting the letter did he realise his mistake. How loving was Swamiji and how rudely he was behaving towards him by writing such a letter! But he stuck to his decision and left Quilandy for Gokarnam without a single pie in hand.

CHAPTER XIII

GOKARNAM AND MOOKAMBIKA


Leaving Quilandy, Neelakanthan visited Udupi, a famous place, noted for the temple of Sri Krishna. He stayed there for two or three days. His plan was to walk the distance to Gokarnam but some people advised him to go by steam-boat as it was a difficult journey to undertake on foot. So he went to Balachi from where he could get a boat to Gokarnam. Somehow he had obtained three rupees but the fare was about five rupees. He approached the Ferry Master and apprised him of the situation. He was a kind-hearted person. So he paid the difference and got Neelakanthan a ticket to Gokarnam. He also gave him a few annas for his pocket expenses. Neelakanthan purchased some beaten rice (Poha) which he soaked in water and ate. There were many Pandas (Purohits) in the boat who were canvassing for business and persuading the travellers to go with

81

82 them. One Panda approached Neelakanthan who was wearing new and costly clothes given to him by Swamiji. He told the Panda that he had no money. The latter, however, did not believe him. Ultimately, however, he took Neelakanthan to his home and gave him free food and shelter for two or three days. Gokarnam is noted for its Siva temple. It is said that Ravana did austere Tapasya here to get the vision of Lord Siva. The temple was open to all but the Malayalis had to pay a fee to have Darshan. On the next day after his arrival Neelakanthan went to the temple after his bath and was standing in the midst of devotees. Somebody came and asked him to quit immediately as he had not paid the fee which was eight annas or so. Neelakanthan was penniless and had to go out quietly. His host, the Panda, offered to pay the required amount but Neelakanthan did not like the idea. He came to know of a place called Ramatirtham, a little away from Gokarnam, by the side of the sea. There was a temple at this place on an elevated ground and was dedicated to Sri Sita Rama. A small kitchen was attached to the temple. It was a beautiful place, commanding a good view. Neela-

83
kanthan liked the place immensely and shifted to that temple. He used to bathe in the sea, and spend much of his time in Japa and meditation. He lived on Madhukari Bhiksha1 for which he had to walk about two miles to the nearest village. This took two or three hours daily. He, therefore, spent a few days without food. Though he realised that the body must be kept in good condition for Sadhana, to walk daily for two or three miles for Bhiksha was not possible. He wrote to some friends and got some money. In the meantime another Sadhu known to him came there and stayed with Neelakanthan. After a , few days' stay he went to UmaMaheswaram, three miles from Ramatirtham, where there is a small temple on a hill . At the foot of the hill there was a fresh - water spring . He stayed in the temple with some green gram (Moong ) for food. Every day he bathed first in the sea, then in the spring and went up the hill with a pot of fresh water . At times he carried twigs for firewood as the hill was barren. He stayed there happily for a few days.
I. Madhukari Bhiksha means , literally, the food procured by begging from house to house as a bee collects honey from different flowers.

84One day when he was sitting in the evening for meditation , he felt a slight shivering . He did not know what. it was. The next day also the same thing happened . Gradually he came to know that it was Malaria. Still he continued to stay there . Soon after , his old acquaintance came to visit him and took him to Ramatirtham . He gave him some medicines . But the fever did not subside . Neelakanthan found that Ramatirtham was not suiting him and decided to return to Quilandy. On his way he stopped at Gokarnam. This time he had some money with him. So he offered worship at the temple; had Darshan of the Siva Lingam and fed a few Sadhus. All through he had been periodically writing to Swamiji and kept him informed of his movements. He wrote to him about his decision to go back to Quilandy. From Gokarnam he started by steamboat for Mangalore and soon reached Quilandy. The Brahmacharin in-charge of the Ashrama was very glad to see him back. All were happy . He stayed there for a few days . He had fever on alternate days . Therefore he left Quil-andy and proceeded to Guruvayur where he stayed for a few days , doing Bhajan. From there he went to , Tiruvalla.

85
At Tiruvalla he got news that Swamiji had-come to Trivandrum to speed-up the Ashrama work . Immediately he left for Trivandrum and met Swamiji. The Swami was angry with him for having gone to Gokarnam without his permission. He said, "Yes , you went to Gokarnam and have brought Malaria. Now make a trip to Mookambika ". That night Neelakanthan had high temperature. Dr. Tampi was called and he brought the temperature down by injections and other medicines . The next day he was admitted to the general hospital in Dr. Tampi ' s ward. After five or six days he was discharged from the hospital. He did not go to the Ashrama. He stayed with a friend for a few days. In the meantime Swamiji left for Bangalore. From Trivandrum he went to Tiruvalla and again to Guruvayur . At Guruvayur he stayed for two or three months doing Bhajan and, once again , returned to Quilandy. This time he had no interest at all in Ashrama life. He wrote to Swamiji about his mental condition and sought permission to go to Mookambika. Swamiji replied : " I have made Bhakta free ." So he left Quilandy and started He got a companion -on his journey . also. Resting at various places en route, they reached Mookambika . They bathed in the river running close to the temple

86 and entered the temple for Darshan. He had enjoyed the sight of the Devi just for a minute or two when somebody asked him to go out immediately. Here too a levy had to be paid by Malayalis for Darshan-a levy of rupee one. He came out and spent the night in the court-yard of the temple with his companion. The next day, after finishing his bath, he paid the required amount and had Darshan of the Devi. He stayed there for a few days, living on Madhukari Bhiksha. From there he went to and stayed in the Ganesha temple, a mile away from Mookambika, in the jungle. Again he changed his abode to a cave called Garuda Guha, by the side of the river. This cave was infested with many poisonous snakes but they did not harm Neelakanthan. He was there for four or five months. As usual, he used to write to Swamiji about his Sadhana. One of Swamiji's letters' addressed to Neelakanthan probably during this period, is given below to show how kind and considerate he was to Neelakanthan:

87
BANGALORE CITY,

15-1-22
My dear Bhaktan, I have received your letter duly and was glad to go through its contents. I am also very happy to learn that you are in perfect health and that you find the place so charmingly suitable for Tapasya. Stay there as long as you like and enjoy its spiritual atmosphere to your heart's content. Do not disturb your Tapasya. When you think that you are very keen and eager to return to the sphere of Karma, then alone it will be good for you to take up some kind of work and not until then. All well here. With love and best wishes, Affectionately yours, Nirmalananda. Swami Vivekananda's birthday was approaching. During his days in the Ashrama, Neelakanthan used to celebrate it on a grand scale and always sent a small amount to Bangalore for the function. At present he had only four annas with him. He sent it to Swamiji. Soon after he felt a strong desire to see Swamiji. By train and bus, somehow he

1. From " Swami Nirmalananda : and Teachings"-page 5 15.

His Life

88
"managed to" reach Bangalore Ashrama. It was about ten o'clock in the morning. He went straight to Swamiji and fell at his feet. This time Swamiji did not rebuke him; he made kind enquiries about his health and allowed him to stay there. One day he said, "Look, you were roaming about here and there for Tapasya and have missed the President Maharaj who was staying here for a long time and gave Sannyasa to......" Although Neelakanthan was sorry that he missed Sri Maharaj's Darshan, he was not worried about external Sannyasa. His aim was purification of the heart. After Swami Vivekananda's birthday celebrations, Swamiji left for Kerala, leaving Neelakanthan at Bangalore. He willingly engaged himself in the Ashrama duties, like looking after the cows, watering the plants and so on. There was a good library in the Ashrama. Neelakanthan used to read books of his choice at his leisure. Brahmachari Veeresh (now Swami Shambhavanandal) was in charge of the Ashrama during Swamiji's absence. Thus days were passing on happily when they received a telegram from Swamiji that the President Maharaj had left his
1. Presently head of the Ramakrishna Ash= rama , Mysore.

89
body. Everybody was sorry. They had a special Puja and fed the poor in connection with Sri Maharaj's Maha Samadhi. After a month Swamiji returned from Kerala and all were happy.

91 life of Sri. Ramakrishna. He wrote to Swamiji and got his permission to proceed to Belur. Handing over charge of the Ashrama to a Brahmacharin, he left for Guruvayur. From there he proceeded to Madras. He stayed for a few days at the Ramakrishna Math there. Swami Sharvananda was the President. He gave him a letter of introduction to Mahapurush Maharaj (Swami Shivananda), the then President of the Ramakrishna Math. Neelakanthan had a similar letter from Swami Nirmalananda also. On reaching Belur Math he met Mahapurush Maharaj and handed over the letters of introduction to him. He enquired about the welfare of Neelakanthan and allowed him to stay there. Neelakanthan visited Dakshineswar and all other important places. His stay was very happy. Dussera was approaching. Although it is celebrated all over India, in Bengal it is celebrated in a way quite different from all other places. This is their most important festival. In the Math also the ,function was celebrated on a very grand scale. This was all new to Neelakanthan. He was very happy to witness the celebrations. Whenever it was possible .he sat at the feet of Mahapurush Maharaj and listened to his advice. Mahapurush Maharaj was very kind

CHAPTER XIV

SANNYASA
After a few days Swamiji asked Neelakanthan to go and take charge of the Quilandy Ashrama once again. Neelakanthan obeyed him and stayed at Quilandy for about two years. Swamiji used to send new Brahmacharins to him for training. Mr. Kundu Panickar who was the Munsiff at Quilandy, arranged for Bhagavata recital by Neelakanthan at his house. Later on the recitals went on in the Ashrama as well as in the houses of various devotees by turn. His way of explaining the Bhagavatam was liked by all. Swamiji came to Quilandy at the invitation of a devotee and stayed there for a few days. He told Neelakanthan that he would soon take him to Belur Math (Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math). But a long time elapsed since Swamiji's return to Bangalore and Neelakanthan was still waiting for the opportunity to visit Belur Math, Dakshineswar and all other places connected with the

90

93 9
and loving . Very often Neelakanthan sa in his bedroom and meditated. One day Mahapurush Maharaj was coming down from his room on the first .floor. Neelakanthan was seated on a bench on the ground floor. Maharaj came to him and asked him what he wanted. Neelakanthan replied that he wanted an ochre cloth. Maharaj said, "Do you want this cloth of mine?" Neelakanthan answered, "I wish to get Sannyasa." Maharaj took him to his room and consulted the almanac. Then he said to him, "Get ready. You will get Sannyasa on the coming Full Moon day." This was two or three days before the Full Moon day. All preparations were made under instructions from Maharaj. On the day previous to taking Sannyasa, Neelakanthan performed Sraddha and other ceremonies and fasted the whole day. The next day at about three o'clock in the morning he was ready after his bath. Mahapurush Maharaj also came and took his seat. Neelakanthan prostrated himself before him and taking his seat, performed the Viraja Homa under his directions. Swami Omkarananda officiated as priest. All the Sannyasa rites were gone throughthe sacred thread, the tuft on the. head and clothes were all discarded. Maharaj
gave him new ochre clothes and a staff and called him "PURUSHOTTAMANANDA". The staff was thrown in the Ganges. He came back with his new clothes on and prostrated himself before Mahapurush Maharaj and other Sannyasins and went to his room where coffee and fruits were ready for him. From this day, that is, the Full Moon Day following Vijaya Dasami (October 1923), Neelakan. tha Bhaktan became `SWAMI PURUSHOTTAMANANDA PURI"-a Sannyasin of the Dasanamil . Sarnpradaya founded by Sri Sankaracharya. During his stay at Belur Math he studied Upanishads and Brahma Sutras with Sankara's commentary from a Pandit who was taking classes there. Now that he had received Sannyasa also, he expressed to Mahapurush Maharaj his desire to visit Hardwar, Rishikesh and other places of pilgrimage in the North. The latter agreed and gave a letter of introduction to. Sri Chandra Maharaj, who was the head of the Advaita Ashrama at Banaras (Varanasi). But looking to his physical condition, Maharaj advised him to return to South before winter began at Hardwar and Rishikesh.
1. As the word suggests , the Dasanami Sampradaya (Order) consists of ten names, viz., Tirtha, Ashrama, Vana, Aranya, Giri , Parvata, Sagara, Puri , Bharati and Saraswati.

95
Purushottamananda used to attend his classes for Sadhus. All the Swamis of the Ashrama were affectionate and kind to him. Every day after bathing in the Ganges, he had Darshan of Lord Viswanatha, Goddess Annapoorna, Lord, Kedarnath and other deities. He immensely enjoyed his stay in Varanasi. Very often he sat on the Ghats of the Ganges in the evening for Japa and meditation. The boats plying in the Ganges, the small thatched roofed platforms made by Pandits for the visiting pilgrims to perform religious rites upon, a number of J eople sitting here and there and doing apa in the evening-all these sights fascinated him. On seeing these things, it was not unusual for him to lose himself in meditation. Often he reached the Ashrama late at night. Another festival that he witnessed was Kali Puja, the celebrations of which added to the happiness of his stay at Varanasi. On the New Moon day Goddess Kali is worshipped the whole night. The Puja, performed in the strict orthodox way, begins at about nine in the night and ends at four next morning. Devotional songs are sung all through. After the Puja, everyone present partakes of the food offered to Mother Kali. The food is prepared the evening before and consequently it

CHAPTER XV

IN THE HIMALAYAS-I We shall now follow Swami Purushottamananda in his pilgrimage to the Himalayan centres of worship and see how, gradually, the grandeur of the Himalayas attracted him and ultimately made him stay there permanently. Leaving Calcutta Swamijil halted at Gaya for a day. After having Darshan, he left for Varanasi. He went to the Advaita Ashrama and handed over Mahapurush Maharaj's letter to Sri Chandra Maharaj (Swami Shubhananda) who received him kindly and made arrangements for his stay in the Ashrama. Chandra Maharaj was a patient of rheumatism and was unable to move from his chair. But he was so efficient and capable that, sitting in his chair, he made things move without any hitch or hindrance. Swami Jagadananda, a great scholar, was also there. Swami
1. From this chapter onwards "Swamiji" will mean Swami Purushottamananda. Swami Nirmalananda will be referred to by full name.

94

97
is quite cold inthe morning.. Still everybody eats it as Prasad. The whole night Swamiji sat through the function. The next day was Deepavali and in Varanasi Darshan of Goddess Annapoorna on that day is considered auspicious. The deity, decorated with jewels, presents a very attractive appearance. Swamiji had Darshan of Annapoorna on that day.' He was very happy, but on his return to the Ashrama he felt some pain and uneasiness in the stomach. It turned out to be dysentry. He was admitted to the Sevashrama (hospital) run by the Ashrama. Swamiji's illness got wore. He thought he would leave his body any moment and his conversation, with a patient on the neighbouring bed was always on death. The other patient who was also a Sadhu, knew Sanskrit and their conversation was in that language. But he was not to die. The Sevashrama authorities brought a specialist and by God's grace his treatment succeeded. Once again the Lord came to his help. Shortly after his discharge from the hospital, he went to the Kumbha Mela at Prayag. On the auspicious day he had a dip in the Sangam (confluence of Rivers Ganges and Yamuna where Saraswati is also said-to be flowing in). He attended Satsang and discourses conducted by various heads of Maths, Mandaleswars and others. After Maha Sivaratri, Swamiji left for Hardwar.
Hardwar -Rishikesh On his way he visited Ayodhya, the

birth-place of Sri Rama, on the banks of river Sarayu, and stayed there for four or five days. From there he proceeded to Hardwar and stayed at the Ramakrishna Sevashrama at Kankhal. Hardwar is also known as Haridwar and Gangadwar-the gateway leading to Hara (Siva) or Hari (Vishnu). It is the place where great saints did penance in ancient times. It was here that Bhartrihari composed his famous hundred verses on Vairagya etc. Hardwar is considered sacred for many other reasons. It is said that the Ganges was received here by Brahma and other Gods and the particular spot is known as Brahma Kund. It is at Hardwar that the Ganges enters the plains. Her course from Gaomukh up to this place lies through hills. Pilgrims perform religious rites in Brahma Kund and bathe there. A little away from Brahma Kund is situated Sapta Sarovar which is also a good place for

98
Tapasya. It was at Sapta Sarovar that Dhritarashtra, the father of Duryodhana and other Kauravas, left his physical body. On the peaks of two hills in Hardwar are situated the temples dedicated to Chandi Devi and Mansa Devi. Kankhal, about two miles from Hardwar, is known to be the capital of Daksha Prajapati where Daksha performed his famous Yajna. In this place is situated the Daksha Ghat. Swamiji visited these places and lived happily at Kankhal. From Kankhal Swamiji went to Rishikesh, a place considered good for Tapasya and where hundreds of Sadhus live. The Annakshetras provide them food (Bhiksha). Sadhuscan thus devote much of their time to their Sadhana. Triveni Ghat, Maya Kund, Lakshman Jhula and other places round about are worth seeing . Maya Kund used to be a calm and quiet place in those days and if one sat for meditation there, he enjoyed it so much that he did not like to get up. Swamiji got a hut here to live in. It was rather dilapidated, so he shifted to another place after some days and finally moved to Brahmananda Ashrama which is managed by the Kailas Ashrama authorities. Mahamandaleswar Swami Prem Puri Maharaj was the head of the Ashrama then. He was a learned Sadhu.

99
Swamiji stayed there for a few months. It was in early 1924.
Uttarkashi At Rishikesh Swamiji heard about Uttarkashi and its spiritual atmosphere. He decided to visit the place and left by train for Dehra Dun. From there he had to go to Mussoorie. Although it was only fourteen miles from Dehra Dun the last seven miles were a steep ascent. Swamiji found it difficult to go all the way on foot,.particularly when he was carrying his luggage. However, he got the necessary courage one day and started the trek. Though he was limping and climbed the hill with great difficulty, his progress continued. This increased his faith in the truth contained in `qW' g i frift;'.1 At last he reached+Mussoorie. He stayed in Sanatana Dharmasala for a few days and visited the neat and beautiful town and nearby places. One day he met a Parsi gentleman, who was a headmaster of a high school in Bombay. Feeling a distaste for the worldly life, he had come to the hills with a servant. He liked Swamiji very much and soon developed a friendship with him. He was planning to go to Uttarkashi. When he learnt that Swamiji too was bound for the same place, he requested him to
I. (The Lord's grace) helps the lame cross the mountain.

100
accompany him. They left for Uttarkashi together. It took four days for them to reach their destination. The way was rough and difficult all through, but their determination to reach Uttarkashi swept all difficulties away. The Parsi companion was very helpful to Swamiji throughout. On the fourth day of their journey they reached Uttarkashi and rested for the night in Kali Kamliwala Dharmasala. The next day Swamiji went round the small town and visited the important temples. He had Darshan of Lord Viswanatha and Goddess Sakti. He went to Laksheswar where there is a Mahadeva temple. Swamiji found the place beautiful and had Darshan of the deity. There was a small Dharmasala near the temple where about a dozen Sadhus could stay comfortably. The place was unfrequented. Swamiji was attracted to it. He approached the Mahant, Swami Charan Dass, and obtained his permission. There after he moved from Kali Kamliwala Dharmasala to this place with his kit. From here he had to walk for a mile and a half to the Annakshetra for Bhiksha. The path was full of sharp stones. He was not accustomed to using shoes or chappals in South India. When lie came to the Himalayas, he found

101
them necessary. He used foot-wear when he started from Mussoorie but his feet became so sore that even at Uttarkashi he found it difficult to walk. One day while he was returning to Laksheswar after receiving Bhiksha, a young Malayali came and prostrated himself in front of Swamiji and expressed a desire to live with him. Swamiji had been feeling that it was becoming. gradually impossible for him to walk all the way for Bhiksha. He took it as Godsent help and allowed the young Malayali to stay with him. The new-comer started bringing Bhiksha for both of them and Swamiji was relieved of that trouble. During his stay there he came in contact with many learned Sadhus like Sri Brahma Prakash, Swami Deva Giriji and others. As his knowledge of Hindi was very poor he could talk freely only with Swami Deva Giriji and others who knew Sanskrit. His contact with these learned Sadhus was very beneficial to him. After a few days when his feet healed, he started going for Bhiksha himself. Although the young man was prepared to do the job with pleasure, Swamiji did not allow him to do it. He believed in everybody doing his own work

102 and not depending on thers for anything. (Even now at the age of eighty he has the same spirit though there are many disciples staying with him). Later he went to and stayed in a cave , a little higher up from Laksheswar. It was rainy season. Swamiji fell ill. He contracted fever and dysentry. So he came down and lived with the Parsi gentleman in the latter's hat. When the rainy season was over, the Parsi friend left for Badrinath. Swamiji was alone now. His illness became severe and he was bed-ridden. The hut was on the road-s ide, so Sadhus used to enquire about his condition when they went for Bhiksha or on their way back. Swami Deva Giriji used to prepare food suited to his condition and bring it to him. He also gave him some medicines but there was not much relief. He then took a medicine sent by a friend from the hospital. The fever subsided and gradually he became all right but was very weak. The ways of the Lord are mysterious indeed ! That year (1924) the rain-fall was very heavy and all the rivers were flooded . Many buildings , cattle and men were washed away. One Sadhu who was living in the cave where Swamiji was formerly living, was also carried away by the . flood. If Swamiji
I

103
had not fallen ill, he would not have left the cave and might have been a victim of the flood ! But he was not to go so soon. On many other occasions he escaped from death. Even when he wanted to leave the body he could not do it for the Lord had destined him for a mission to fulfill- to guide and lead the spiritual aspirants to their goal. Day by day Swamiji improved in health. Winter was approaching. It was already November. Many Sadhus had left Uttarkashi. Some well-wishers, especially Swami Deva Giriji, advised him to go back to South India as the cold in Uttarkashi would be unbearable for him. But Swamiji had taken a fancy for the place and was so attracted by it that he did not mind even dying there. Seeing his determination Swami Deva Giriji made arrangements for his stay in his own Ashrama. A little distance away Deva Giriji had a building where there was a good library of which Swamiji made good use. It was here that he read Sri Ramacharitamanasa of Sri Tulsidas for the first time . Though it is in Hindi, a language in which he was not wellversed, Swamiji could understand the book a little because of his knowledge of Sanskrit . He also studied the Gita,

104
the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Gradually his taste for Vedanta increased. He even gave away his copy of the Bhagavatam to somebody. The weather was becoming cooler and cooler. There was snow-fall for three consecutive days. For the first time in his life he witnessed snow-fall. Because of the snow it was impossible to open the door. The cold was intense and the breeze strong. He spent much of his time in meditation. In spite of the severe cold Swamiji was very happy.
Gangotri When the winter season came to an

105
At Dharali he met Swami Krishnashram. Although the Sannyasins of the 'Ashram" branch are Dandi2 Sannyasins, Swami Krishnashram had given up the staff. When Swamiji met him in 1925, he was more than 50 years old. He was a well-known and respected saint. He wore no clothes at all and always kept silence (Mowna). The people of that village honoured and respected him as they would a God. When they prepared food they sent a portion of it to him and only then they ate themselves. He received Swami Purushottamananda with love and kindness. At the time of meals, he gave Swamiji a portion of whatever he received from the villagers. Swamiji stayed with him for three or four days and then left for Gangotri. Swami Krishnasharm lives in Gangotri these days. Gangotri is 13 miles from Dharali. Swamiji stayed at Gangotri for a few days and then returned to Dharali.
Kedarnath

end, he started for Gangotri which is 5S miles away. Everybody advised him not to go there as the heavy rains had washed away the path at many places. But Swamiji was very eager to proceed. He has never depended on anybody but the Lord. He started with his kit on his back and very often had to take a circuitous route. Stopping at some Ashratnas on the way, he reached Dharali and stayed in one of the huts meant for Sadhus. A village was nearby from where he got Madhukari Bhiksha. The Kali Kamliwala Kshetra gave raw rations to Sadhus. For the first time in life he tried his hand at making Chappatis(Roti).

At Dharali he met an old acquaintance belonging to Gandhi Ashrama. He had


1. Of the Dasanami Order-see footnote on page 93. 2. Sannyasins of certain branches of the Dasanami order keep a staff (b and) as a symbol of the strict austerities of the branch.

106
stayed with Swamiji for a few days when. the latter was at Uttarkashi. At Dharali he stayed with Swamiji. He was an expert in the culinary art. He taught Swamiji how to make good Roties (Chappaties). He had come on a pilgrimage to the four Dhamas-Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. He had with him ration coupons of Kali Kamliwala Kshetra. At the time of leaving Dharali he told Swamiji that. he had a spare coupon book which the Swami could utilise if he desired to go to other places. These coupons are issued from the Rishikesh centre of Kali Kamliwala Kshetra for Sadhus intending to go on pilgrimage to the four centres. At specified Kali Kamliwala Dharmasalas enroute free raw ration (dal, flour, etc.) is supplied on presenting the coupon. Swamiji had no intention of going to any other place of pilgrimage but when he got the coupon book so easily and unasked, he took it as the Will of God and decided to undertake the journey to Kedarnath and Badrinath. That young man offered some money also which Swamiji declined to accept. That was the pilgrim season. Pilgrims, after visiting Gangotri, were coming to Dharali to proceed to Budha Kedar.

107
Many of them were old ladies. Due to age, some were hunch-backed. When he saw these aged ladies going in groups, staff in hand, all his hesitation vanished. If these old women could go, why not he? So he followed them and walked slowly. Whenever he was tired, he rested for some time and proceeded again. Even young men of sound health find it difficult to trek in these mountains. How Swamiji with his rheumatic leg and poor health climbed all these hills is a mystery-perhaps even to himself ! But for God's grace he would not have been able to visit all these places. Somehow or other he reached Budha Kedar on the third evening. He was dead tired and very hungry. He had no energy left to cook a meal but there was no other alternative. He drew his ration for the coupon and cooked his food after bathing. After dinner he retired for the night. Budha Kedar is a beautiful place and the Presiding Deity there is Siva Lingam. Early next morning Swamji had his bath and Darshan of the deity. The day after he started for Kedarnath. Pain in his leg increased on the way. He was tired and found it difficult to walk. He sat down and rested for a long time. He fixed his mind on the Lord. To re-

108
member God in happiness and in distress alike was an old habit with him. This practice always gave him strength. After rest he got up and commenced his onward march and reached Triyugi Narayan. There is a temple in this place where there is always a fire in a Homa Kund (Havan pit). Pilgrims purchase firewood and do oblation in the fire. It is said that at this place the marriage of Lord Siva and Parvati took place and the fire lighted during the marriage has been burning eversince. Swamiji visited all the places of interest and left Triyugi Narayan much refreshed. On the way he visited Gauri Kunda hot spring-where pilgrims take a dip. He stopped for the night at Rambarha, a place surrounded by beautiful scenery. From here Kedar is only three miles. The ascent is steep but the beautiful natural surroundings and the cool breeze make the journey pleasant and easy. In spite of the severe pain in his leg, Swamiji reached Sri Kedarnath without much fatigue. From the top of the mountain it looks green and beautiful everywhere. At Kedarnath nature's beauty has to be seen to be appreciated and enjoyed. But it is very cold-biting cold there. So usually pilgrims do not stay for more than a day. Swamiji was attracted by

109 the place. He had Darshan of Sri Kedarnath and spent three days there. Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Swamiji was very happy during his stay there. After three days he left Kedarnath for Sri Badrinath.
Badrinath

From Kedar Swamiji returned to Ookhi Math via Gauri Kund and Nala Chatti. During winter when the temple at Kedar is closed, Sri Kedarnath is worshipped at Ookhi Math where there is a nice and beautiful temple. The next day he proceeded to Badrinath. After covering a few miles he reached a Chatti. Chatties are halting places with shops where one can purchase raw rations like rice, flour, dal etc. There are arrangements for cooking and taking rest too. The shop-keeper lends cooking utensils, free of charge, to those who purchase rations from him. When the Swami reached the Chatti it was raining heavily. He hurried inside a shop and sat in a corner. He did not have even a single pie with him and so could not buy anything. The shopkeeper who got no money from Swamiji, objected to his sitting there and asked him to get out. But Swamiji did not pay heed to what he said and kept

I11
sitting there . He was very hungry and fatigued . It was almost two o'clock in the afternoon . Swamiji saw a rich man (Seth ) with his entourage camping in the same Chatti . He approached him and requested for food. He gave him some wheat flour (Atta)-about one-fourth of a seer . What was he to do with Atta? How was he to collect firewood in the rain? He apprised the Seth of his difficulty and he gave him an anna for firewood. Just then an old woman came to the Seth. She was fully drenched and was shivering with cold. The Seth was a hard - hearted man. He shouted at her in a harsh tone, "It is only a minute back that I gave Bhiksha to this S-adhu (pointing to Swamiji ) and now you also want something?" The poor woman had no courage to stand there. She simply turned back and walked away. Sorrow was written all over her face . It was a pitiable scene to see her . How strange it is that those who would, perhaps, contribute lakhs to a charitable fund are the entreaties of the unmoved by decrepit and hungry ! The ways of the Lord are unfathomable ! To revert to our story, the old woman was dejected and went back in the rain. Swamiji had heard and seen all that happened. He was greatly` moved. From his childhood it was his habit to share with others whatever he had. Even now he feels for others intensely and does not care about himself. He constantly repeats "Feel, feel and feel for others." When he saw the dejected old woman returning, he called her and gave her the flour and the anna which, a little while before, the Seth had given him. She was happy. Swamiji, however, was happier than her. Is it not said,
c

c TTS

f^ua^^ ^rza, aa9t 1T fT ;uvur;T zr I


Kc
^acrrg7T^,

crf

gYLc mq xOr ^r T =T r : 11 (It is asked whether there is anything softer than fresh butter. The answer is: `Yes, the heart of a noble man. The butter melts only when it is heated but a noble heart melts when another person is heated i. e., is in distress.') and the same in Goswami Tulsidas's words :
TrcT iKi' ;rzm1ff trirrnr,

^ MT ;TT I qi wfw;; qfK W^ fkr gftTq X4W ;M*UT, gKg : ;q xzlr 4a eft rr I I"

112
After giving away what little he had, Swamiji went back and sat in the same corner of the shop. He was hungry but the servants of the Seth gave him something to eat. Praying to God to give him energy to climb the hills the next day and repeating His name, he went to bed at night. The next morning he continued his journey . The halting place was Gopeshwar. Here he had a meal. Slowly Chamoli was reached. He collected the ration for his coupon but it was late in the evening and he did Early next morning not cook food . he started again and reached a Chatti. He had one pice (quarter of an anna) with him for which he purchased firewood from a shop and borrowed The shopkeeper vessels for cooking . was under the impression that Swamiji would purchase Atta and Dal from him and with that belief he lent him the vessels . Swamiji lighted fire and kept Dal on it for cooking. He was kneading Atta into dough for making Rotis when the shop-keeper came to him shouting , " From where did you purchase this Atta and other things? You have cheated me . I can ' t allow you to prepare food here . Return the vessels immediately." Swamiji was perplexed. He did not know what to do . Somehow

113.
the shop-keeper cooled down. He did not throw the Dal that was being cooked. It was God ' s grace that a little kindness dawned in his heart. He asked Swamiji to prepare the food quickly and return the vessels. Swamiji did accordingly and after cleaning the vessels, returned them to him. Next stop was Garuda Ganga, named after the river of the same name which flows there. According to legend it was at this place that the Lord gave Darshan to Garuda. Pilgrims pick up pebbles from the river and take them home as it is believed that snakes will not come where these pebbles are kept. There is a temple here dedicated to Sri Garuda which Swamiji visited. Later he drew his ration for a coupon . After cooking and finishing his meal, he wanted to give away to the needy the flour that had been left over . He was asking loudly whether anybody wanted Atta, when somebody, recognising his voice, came running to him. He was the same person who gave him the ration coupons at Dharali . Seeing Swamiji ' s shattered health he was very much pained. He guessed that Swamiji had no money with him. So he said, " Did I not tell you then that it is nice to keep some money for the journey? Now be pleased to accept some. But I know your nature

114
very well and so have a request to make. Please do not give this to anybody else. This is meant exclusively for your own use." But Swamiji was. not ( and is not) a person to abide by such condition. He refused the offer . The other person, however, placed a five- rupee note in Swamiji ' s hands and returned to his room. The value of five rupees in those days and at such a place cannot be easily estimated. Meditating on all the mysterious ways of the Lord for giving help to His devotees, Swamiji went to sleep.
Next morning he left Garuda Ganga and halting at Patal Ganga and two other Chattis, reached Joshi Math, a fam'us place. When the temple at Badrinath closes for about six months in winter the worship of Loyd Narayana is performed in this place. The offices connected with the Temple Committee are also shifted to this place. The chief priest, who is known as `The Rawal Saheb' has, at Joshi Math, a bungalow provided by the Temple authorities where he can stay, if he so desires, during the winter. Sri Sankaracliarya, the exponent of the Advaita philosophy is said to have done Tapasya here. Out of the four Maths, established by him, one is at Joshi Math, known as Jyotir Math

115 (Jyotish Pitha ). There is also an ancient temple where the Siva Lingam is said to have been installed by Sri Sankaracharya. SwamiU visited all these places and temples and continued his journey.
Now-a-days - good road runs up to Josh Mid ` . rom here only nineteen mires remain to be covered for Badrinath.

Leaving Joshi Math, one comes to Pandukeswar via Vishnu Prayag. This place also has some importance. It is said that the deity installed in the local temple was brought from heaven by Arjuna.
The next halt is Hanuman Chatti, the last of the Chattis on the way to Badrinath. There is a temple here dedicated to Hanuman. Swamiji reached this place one evening and rested for the night. Early next morning he continued his journey. From here the road to Badrinath is only five miles out of which four miles are a steep ascent. Pilgrims gasp for breath while going up these mountains. Swamiji found it very difficult to climb but somehow he reached the destination-Sri Badrinath. On seeing the top of the temple from a distance, all his troubles were forgotten,. He was beyond himself with joy. He reached the temple and prostrated

116
himself before the Lord in the street. Soon after he went to the Tapta Kund (tank of hot water) for a bath. In this Kund , water comes from a nearby hot spring through a channel and an outlet is provided for keeping it clean. Pilgrims take a dip in the Kund and sometimes remain in it for a long time. The hot water bath removes all their fatigue. Swamiji was very much refreshed after bathing there. He went inside the temple for Darshan and was full of joy at the sight of the deity. He was reminded of the Bhagavatam. This was the place to which Uddhava was sent by Lord Krishna for penance. All the passages connected with the episode came to his mind. He then thought of himself and his own achievement. Could he, an invalid lying on bed with rheumatism in the southernmost part of India, ever dream of coming to Badrinath in the Himalayas ? Yet there he was now, standing in front of the deity witnessing Puja and Arati. His feeling of that time are known to him only. He shed tears of joy at the benevolence of the Lord. Swamiji lived on Bhiksha at Badrinath . Here cooked food is given to Sadhus in the Annakshetras . There are solitary huts for Sadhus on the opposite

117
Swamiji bank of River Alaknanda . wanted to stay there for a long time but could not do so for more than a week.

119
worship them. Swamiji was also invited by somebody. He ate plenty of sweetmeats. That very day his stomach started giving him trouble. It continued all along the route but at Kirtinagar it increased. He did not know what to do about it. At this juncture a middleaged Brahmin came to him. He took him to his home, about a mile away, and gave him some medicine. He was very sincere and loving. In spite of all his efforts to give relief to Swamiji, he could not succeed in his attempt. He, therefore, took him to the hospital at Srinagar and got him admitted there. Swamiji was in the hospital for a week or so. He greatly improved by the treatment in the hospital. One day Tara Dutt, a famous lawyer, visited him in the hospital. Tara Dutt was a sincere devotee and was always ready to serve Sadhus. He took Swamiji from the hospital and made arrangements for his stay in a solitary hut. His own house was at Pauri but he used to come to Srinagar, very frequently, for rest and relaxation. After a fortnight or so, Tara Dutt took him to Pauri, a good health resort. The members of his family loved and respected Swamiji and provided him with all comforts. But Swamiji thought that such, a life was not good and left the place one morning without informing

CHAPTER XVI

IN THE HIMALAYAS-II
It was with a heavy heart that Swamiji left Badrinath. Hoping to visit that holy place at some other time and to stay there for a longer period, he, returned by the same route by which he went to Badrinath. Halting here and there for a day or two he reached Srinagar. This is a beautiful place. Swamiji lived there for a few days and proceeded to Kirtinagar. A little above the Alaknanda river there are some caves. He stayed in one of these. We have already mentioned that Swamiji had difficulty in walking and his leg caused him severe pain very often. Even during his return journey from Badrinath he had the same trouble. Whenever the pain became unbearable or he was fatigued, he sat on the road-side and meditated on the Lord. After a while he gained energy and was on his feet again. At Badrinath the pilgrims invite Sadhus. They offer them sweets and 118

120
anybody. He went to Deva Prayag, a famous place situated on the confluence of Rivers Bhagirati and Alaknanda. Pilgrims bathe in the confluence and offer oblations to their departed ancestors. The Purohits ( Pandas ) of Badrinath live here. The main temple of the place is dedicated to Lord Raghunatha . Swamiji lived in the Kali Kamliwala Dharmsala. When he was at Pauri he was all right, the stomach complaint had subsided. He used to get fruits and milk there and this diet did him good . But when he left Pauri, the trouble appeared again. Now it became unbearable . Every now and then he had to go to the privy. He lost appetite and felt very tired and weak. He was disgusted . He did not know of any remedy . The Ganges was flowing swiftly below the Dharmasala. There were about thirty to forty steps to go down to the river . It was about two in the afternoon . Swamiji decided to jump into the river and get rid of the disease once for all . He got up from his seat, went down and stood on the last step, close to the water. He looked around. There was nobody nearby. That was the best time to carry out his resolve. He was about to jump into the Ganges when lo ! he heard a voice, "There is a good Bengali physician here. He has cured many diseases by injections. He is

121
a good person and is not avaricious-he is not after money." He wondered if these words were meant for him. He turned around . There was nobody to be seen. Was it the voice of the Lord to save His devotee ? What other explanation could be given for such a phenomenon? Swamiji gave up his suicidal attempt and climbed back all the steps . On reaching the street he enquired whether there was a Bengali doctor and getting an answer in the affirmative he found out his place. He explained everything to him . The doctor showed keen interest in Swamiji and gave him an injection. He also provided milk and diet for him. After three or four injections Swamiji was much better. 0, Lord ! who can understand Thy inscrutable ways ! Thy devotees never perish, but how many are convinced of this truth even after hearing such instances ? Only when Thou willeth can we have a glimpse of Thy glory and mercy. Within a few days Swamiji was quite well. From Deva Prayag he went to Uttarkashi. There he met Swami Deva Giriji who was pleased to see him. On hearing the story of Swamiji's adventurous trip and his experiences , all were thrilled. Swami Deva Giriji ' s love for him increased manifold. He said, "It is good that you came to-day. That Kuti

122
(hut) in Ujjali in which you were staying is wanted by many people . I was waiting for you all these days. I had decided to give it to somebody else tomorrow if you had not come to-day . It is good that you have come," and he gave him the key.. Swamiji stayed there for a few months. During this period he happened to meet Dhiren Maharaj whom he had met at Belur Math and who was now staying in a village about two miles away. They used to meet often on the road and discuss religion and allied subjects. On a cold winter evening Swamiji felt a desire to go and see him . It was already late and there was not enough time to go and return before dark. But he felt that something was forcing him and saying to him, "Go , go quickly." He obeyed the inner voice and went. There he found Dhiren Maharaj sitting in the corner of a verandah, shivering with cold. The villagers had not provided him with proper shelter. He was very quiet and shy and never asked for any help. Swamiji met the villagers and made some permanent arrangement for his stay. For some reasons he had to shift to Laksheswar from Ujjali. There he spent the rest of the . winter. That year the

123
snow-fall was not heavy . Moreover, he was now a little used to cold as this 'was his second winter in Uttarkashi. He spent his time very happily. Slowly winter was gone and summer came and his health became delicate. His discomfort was increasing. There were many people who were ready to treat him and serve him but he did not like to trouble others and left Uttarkashi. From Uttarkashi he went to Dunga Prayag via Dharasoo. The same trouble with which he had previously suffered at Deva Prayag again attacked him. Every now and then he had to go to the privy. He crossed the bridge and went to the other side of the river and stayed in one of the vacant huts. But it became extremely difficult to do Japa or meditation owing to severe pain in the stomach and frequent motions. He became restless. "What is the use of living like this ?" he thought. It was better to die than to live in that condition. He came to the bridge and got down to the river. The water was flowing swifty . There were a few big rocks projecting out of water. He climbed one and making sure that nobody watched him, jumped into the river . But he did not allow himself to be drowned; he swam to the other bank. Yes, 11^,11f aRri aj"-the desire to live is strong. He came out of the water

124
and. went to the same Kuti. Having remained in the cold water for some time, his stomach was cooled and frequent stools also stopped. There was some relief. His disgust of life reappeared next morning. He resolved to die of starvation. He decided not to go anywhere for food, but 'man proposes and God disposes'. Somebody came with a pot full of Payasam (Kheer prepared with milk). Swamiji felt that it was not in his hands to live or die. There is a higher Power which rules over the destiny , of everyone. He gratefully accepted and ate it. How that person came to know of Swamiji is not known to the latter. He also requested Swamiji to leave that solitary and deserted place and go to the nearby village where the people would be only too glad to give him food and milk. Before the evening he reached the village pointed out by that person and rested in the verandah of a small temple. He lived on Madhukari Bhiksha. He had been there for a few days when he noticed he was gradually putting on fat. He soon realised, however, that it was some sort of a swelling-oedema. It was not a healthy sign , so he left the village. He came to the bridge and took the road to Tehri. Every moment he felt the body to be a burden. He could

125
no longer bear it. Once again he decided to die. This time he had a new plan up his sleeve . He left the road and entered the forest. There he found plenty of firewood, cut into small pieces . It was mid-day. Swamiji collected the wood and arranged it in a pyre. He untied his bundle and hung his clothes all around on the fire-wood. The cloth which he was wearing and a brass vessel was all that remained. All the other things were heaped on the pyre. He sat upon it facing the Ganges and meditated for a while. Thereafter he took out a box of matches and set fire to the clothes. Within a few minutes the wood was ablaze. When the heat became unbearable he jumped off the pyre. He had a rupee or two with him, he threw that too in the fire. With the brass vessel and the only cloth that was on his body, he left the place without even looking behind. He reached the road like a mad man. On the way one or two acquaintances met him. They were surprised to see him, looking like a lunatic. Without caring for anything Swamiji went ahead. He was very hungry. On the way he found an Ashrama . The Sadhu living there fed him affectionately. After the meal he started again and by evening reached a village. How was he to spend the

126
cold night without clothes ? Villagers in the mountain have very few clothes. They could not spare anything even for a night . His attempts to secure some covering for the body did not meet with any success . . He did not know what to do. At that time his eyes fell on a decent house a little away from the village. He approached it. The occupants were Christians and were educated. Swamiji was glad because he could talk to them in English. When he explained his position they gladly gave him a He thanked blanket for the night . them heartily and V returned to the village where he slept. Early in the morning he returned the blanket and continued his journey. On the way his old disease appeared again-frequent motions and pain. Somehow he reached Tehri. He went straight to the hospital and met the chief physician. He was admitted to the hospital where he got some relief. Some teachers from the local high school visited him daily in the hospital. One day he happened to meet Babu Ganga Prasad, a High Court Judge. The latter took Swamiji to his residence and provided him with all comforts. With good and proper diet, Swarniji's health improved. After spending about two months at Tehri, he left for Mussoorie. There the

127
disease reapeared . He proceeded to Hardwar via Dehra Dun. On reaching Hardwar he went to Sri Ramakrishna Mission ' Sevashrama at Kankhal. Swamis Kalyananandaji and Nischayanandaji (Bara Maharaj and Chhota Maharaj) were there. They knew Swamiji and had great love for him. Swami Nirmalanandaji had also come to Kankhal then . They all took keen interest in him. He was given a special room in the hospital. His disease was diagnosed . It was Piles . They suggested surgery as the best cure but they had no surgical section there. It was, therefore, suggested to him that he should go to Varanasi Sevashrama or some other place, but he had not even a pie with him. One day a Sadhu came to his room. On Iearnirg Swamiji 's illness he said, "I have no faith in treatment. All diseases va nish by prayers and Vrindaban is the best place for that. You better go there and lead a life of prayer and meditation." He gave him some money for his expenses . Swamiji took his advice and went to Vrindaban. There he stayed in the Ramakrishana Ashrama for a few days. The disease was giving him much trouble. He could not sit in a place peacefully for any length of time due to pain and frequent stools. How was he to do Bhajan ? He became

128
restless and went to the railway station without any plan. There he asked one of the passengers as to where he was going, and was told that he was bound for Agra. Swamiji also decided to proceed to Agra. In the train the fellow-passengers told him that Agra had an up-to-date hospital where he would be attended to. On reaching his destination, he went to the hospital. He was examined and when he gave his consent for the surgical operation, he was admitted as an 'in patient'. In the hospital patients had to put on the hospital uniform. When Swamiji was given the dress he told the matron, who was an English lady, that being a Sannyasin he could not wear white clothes. It was quite against the code of Sannyasa. Thereupon he was allowed to remain in his own dress. When she learnt that Swamiji was a monk, she showed him much respect and provided all comforts to him. On the appointed day he was operated upon and when the wound hea. led he was discharged from the hospital. Where was he to go now ? He had no money. Some people told him that a well-known Mahatma, Aloo Baba, lived at a little distance from that place. He did not allow anybody to stay with him but perhaps he may make an

129
exception in Swamiji's case. For two or three days Swamiji lived on the banks of Yamuna and then went to Aloo Baba's Ashrama. It was a lonely place by the side of the river. An artificial cave was built there. The Baba received him kindly and permitted him to stay there as long as Swamiji wished. In the Ashrama there were daily discourses on spiritual matters and many of the local gentry came to listen to them. Swamiji had a pleasant stay there. Spending the time in prayer and meditation, he lived happily. Slowly he improved in health but the piles had not disappeared completely. One of Baba's devotees, a Vaidya, prescribed a course of treatment and with that the disease disappeared once for all. During his stay there, he visited the world-famous Taj Mahal. He was wonderstruck with its beauty which is an expression of love. Not only the building, but every brick, stone, plant and fountain appeared to him to be an embodiment of love. After a few days' stay at Agra, he left for Vrindaban. One of the Baba's devotees gave him some money. Although he had visited Vrindaban before, sickness had not allowed him to stay in the place where Sri Krishna enacted his Leela. It was with the intention of seeing all these places connected. with the Lord's play that he now went there.

114
Vrindaban is holy for every Hindu. But for one who from childhood had devoted all his time to the Bhagavatam, Vrindaban was synonymous with the Lord. The whole place was sacred. One can imagine how happy Swamiji was while visiting all the important places there. Every day he went to the temples for Darshan. A large number of Sadhus and Bhaktas live there. In the houses and Ashramas there was always Bhajan and Kirtan. The whole place echoed with the name of the Lord. Though Swamiji attended these Kirtanas sometimes, he desired to live in solitude. So he went to a village nearby and stayed there for two months. Here he had an attack of malaria. He, therefore, left the place and went to Kanpur and Unnao. Sri Ganga Shankar, who was the Sessions Judge there, was known to Swamiji. He lived with the judge for a few days and when he had recouped his health, left for Dehra Dun with the idea of going to Uttarkashi. At Dehra Dun he was told that the road to Uttarkashi had been damaged by heavy snow-fall and it was impossible to go there. He gave up the idea and stayed in a hut provided by a famous Mahant, a follower of Guru Nanak. After a month there he proceeded to Rishikesh and then to Swargashram.

CHAPTER XVII

FIRST FLASH OF THE ABSOLUTE Swargashram, in those days, was not so congested with buildings as it is to-day. There were a few solitary Kutis (huts) here and there in which Sadhus lived. Behind the Kutis it was all a thick jungle. One could see wild elephants in the place where Gita Bhavan stands to-day. It was not uncommon to see a herd of them bathing and playing in the. Ganges during the day. Sadhus got cooked food from an Annakshetra. It was a real Swarga Ashrama (heavenly abode) for Sadhus who wanted to lead a life of prayer and meditation. There were many Sadhus living in separate Kutis. Swami Sivananda, whose fame has now spread in India and abroad, was also living in a Kuti facing the Ganges. He had given up his lucrative practice as a doctor in Malaya and had come to lead the life of a recluse. Swamiji and Swami Sivanandaji used to meet often and discuss religion.

131

132
Life was happy at Swargashram. One day when Swamiji went for Bhiksha he learnt that a feast was being given on that day and food would be served late. Instead of returning to his Kuti, Swamiji entered the nearby jungle. Going deep into it, he sat down for meditation. He experienced a very blissful and deep meditation. To quote his own words, " `tYTTan1f gI;q, (All this is prervaded by the Lord).' There was a flash of this Truth. Realising that all this is the Lord (gE1 R rrt), the sense of duality vanished and even the inanimate objects seemed animated by the spirit of the Lord. As a result of this realisation it became impossible to pluck even a leaf. This condition lasted for a few minutes only. It was the beginning of my journey in the spiritual field. I felt I am standing for election to the Lord's Parliament." Later on Swamiji .narrated this to his friend, Swami Sivanandaji. He went to the Kshetra and receiving his food, reached his Kuti. From that day his desire to meditate in that jungle increased . Almost every day, whenever he got a chance, he made it a point to meditate in the dense forest where Gita Bhavan stands now. Swamiji says: "Even now the experience of those days

133
when I used to walk alone in the forest, full of happiness and without any thought, is vivid in my memory. If anybody doubts the value of renouncing one's home and his people and going to the forest in search of the Lord, who pervades the forest and the town alike, what can we do about it?"
One day when he was in the forest one middle-aged man came and fell at his feet. He was very weak and was in white clothes. The new-comer wanted to live with him. Although he was told that it was not possible, he would not listen. As the stranger persisted upon living with him, Swamiji had to agree. He was suffering from various diseases and was full of gratitude when Swamiji brought water from the Ganges, washed his head and body, and gave him enough to eat. However, he did not get any relief from the nursing and would not agree to being taken to the hospital. When Swamiji found it was no use arguing with the patient, he decided to leave the place himself.

One evening Swamiji went for a stroll by the bank of the Ganges and reached Brahmapuri where Brahmachari Pyarelal lived. It was already dark and there was not enough time to return to Swargashram. He acquainted Pyarelal with

134
the situation and expressed his desire to spend the night there. Pyarelal showed him a Kuti, a little away from that place and he spent the night there. Early in the morning Pyarelal came to him with the information that he was going to Rishikesh and Swamiji could reach Swargashram early if he accompanied him. But Swamiji had been attracted by the beauty of the place and declined to accompany Pyarelal who left the place angrily. Swamiji had his bath and engaged himself in Japa and meditation. It was about ten in the morning. Three or four people came to see him and offered him milk. They were out on a picnic. They had their bath and cooked food which they served to Swamiji first before eating themselves. After taking rest for sometime, they left the place. Before leaving they offered the left over provisions - atta, dal, salt, rice and condiments-to Swamiji. Seeing, the Divine hand behind such help coming in such a place he accepted the offer. In the evening he was immersed in the thought of the Lord when Pyarelal came to see him. Seeing rice and other provisions lying in front of Swamiji he was wonderstruck. Swamiji told him the whole story and gave him all those things. The Brahmachari was pleased

lz
and started showing respect and kindness to Swamiji. Swamiji had been there. for three days when Pyarelal showed him a cave where, in the years gone by, the famous Swami Rama Tirtha lived and did Tapasya. That place is named after him and is known as Rama Guha. It is located under the projection of a rock, about twenty-five feet high. Swamiji occupied the cave and removed a good quantity of sand from it to make it a comfortable place for living. In the meantime Pyarelal told him that if he informed the authorities of the Kali Kamliwala Kshetra, they would give him raw rations for a fortnight at a time. The next day Swamiji went to Rishikesh and informed the manager of the Kshetra about his requirements. He agreed. Thereafter, returning to Swargashram and collecting his clothes, he proceeded to Brahmapuri. The rations were issued on the Full Moon and New Moon days. To carry the provisions, weighing about ten seers, from Rishikesh to Brahmapuri, a distance of four to five miles, was a difficult task. Swamiji brought half the items half the way and buried them in the sand. He then went back to Rishikesh and carried the other half to Rama

136
Guha. Once again he returned to the place where he had buried half the rations and brought them to the cave. The whole process took about two days and was a difficult job. The only consolation that he derived was that he had no worry about rations for the next fifteen days and had plenty of time for Sadhana (spiritual practices). Sometimes guests came and Swamiji offered them food. During his stay there he celebrated Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's birthday on a grand scale. He invited many Sadhus for the function. Apart from the Ramakrishna Mission Sannyasins living in Rishikesh area, prominent personalities who attended were the late Swami Tapovanam of Uttarkashi, Swami Sivanandaji and Swami Govinda Giriji. Everybody was pleased and wondered how Swamiji managed to celebrate the occasion on such a grand scale.

CHAPTER XVIII

VASISHTHA GUHA
During rainy season, as the Ganges rose, the Rama Guha at Brahmapuri was generally under water. From July to October nobody could live there. Swamiji, therefore, returned to Swargashram and stayed there during the monsoon, and at the end of it went back to Brahmapuri. This time he was accompanied by a Brahmacharin who had come to know of Swamiji and came to him all the way from Travancore. His name was Madhavan. Swamiji taught him Sanskrit. He was helpful to Swamiji in bringing rations from Rishikesh. A few months passed. r.n official of the Forest Department came to him one day and told him about Vasishtha Guha. He said it was the best place for Tapasya and was habitable all the year round. The very name Vasishtha Guha thrilled Swamiji and attracted him. He felt an urge to go there. However, he waited patiently for an opportunity. It was the year 1928. On the 19th day of June, after their morning meal,

137

138
they buried all their things in the sand and Swamiji and Madhavan started for Vasishtha Guha. They had gathered information about the route which lay along the side of the Ganges. There was no road or even a foot-path. They had to swim at certain places. By evening they reached Shivpuri. They halted there and spent the, night on the sands. Within a few minutes three or four Sadhus joined them. They were also going to Vasishtha Guha. As they were quite new to the place, they too had to undergo various difficulties and were tired. Early next morning they engaged a guide. Swamiji also accompanied them. About ten o'clock they all reached Vasishtha Guha. Swamiji was very glad. The cave is sufficiently large. A hundred yards on the south of the cave flows Mother Ganges. There was no house nearby. Not far away from the cave, flows a small river which meets the Ganges. The cave was surrounded by a thick forest. The whole atmosphere was calm and quiet. Swamiji had never before seen such a beautiful and peaceful place. On the left of the cave there is a' small cave-like place -in which a Brahmacharin was staying. The main cave was occupied by a rich householder who was a businessman from Saharanpur

139
(a Lalaji) and was-' indifferent to Sadhus. So Swarniji and Madhavan approached the Brahmacharin in the small cave. He invited both of them for dinner. The other Sadhus started cooking their food as they had brought provisions with them. After bath, prayer and meditation Swamiji and Madhavan had their meal with the Brahmacharin and took rest. Swamiji fell in love with the place. He did not feel like leaving. However, he decided that he would come next year and make this place his permanent abode. They were ready to return with the other Sadhus but the Brahmacharin, a very loving person, requested all of them to stay for another day. They had to agree to his entreaties. He immediately left for Bhiksha. The nearest village is not less than three miles away and the path, all along , is rough with steep ascents and descents. Ignoring all the difficulties he went to the village and collected some provisions from the village. How, kind and devoted was he to the Sadhus! And what a contrast was the Lalaji ! He had all the things required, and in plenty. He had enough money also. Yet, he had no desire to give anything to anybody. The next day, June twenty-first, the Brahmacharin served them food by the

140
side of the Ganges. It was a feast. He had put his heart in the preparation of food. After the meal they all started on the return journey. Swamiji also returned with them with the firm determination of making Vasishtha Guha his permanent abode. They reached Brahmapuri the next day and continued to live there. Days passed. One night Swamiji was sitting on a big rock near the Ganges and meditating. The boy was sleeping in the cave. The time was about eleven in the night. Swamiji heard a loud noise-roaring sound of the approaching flood. He immediately grasped the situation, ran to the cave and awakened the boy. Taking whatever they could, they rushed in the darkness to the garden belonging to Pyarelal. In the meantime the cave was flooded. Had they delayed a few minutes, it would have been a tragedy. They stayed in the garden for two or three days. They would have stayed there longer but for an incident that occurred. Pyarelal was away and a young man from Mysore was living there. Pyarelal used to give plantains to Swamiji. The garden was full of the fruit and there was no dearth of it. One day Madhavan took a few green plantains from a tree. The youth

141
rushed to Swamiji and abused him. He went further and gave him a blow. Madhavan became wild with anger and pounced upon him. He would have killed him but for the timely intervention of Swamiji who talked to his assailant with love and gave him something to eat. How high has one to rise before one can act like this ! After this incident Swamiji did not like to stay there. He left for Swargashram with Madhavan the same day. The whole of the rainy season he spent there. In October 1929, after the rains, the Swami started for Vasishtha Guha with a blanket and a few other things. This time he was alone. The day came to an end and it was dark. He was far away from any shelter. He decided to spend the night in the open. To quote Swami Vivekananda:
"The sky thy roof; the grass thy bed; and food, What chance may bring, well cooked or ill, judge not. No food or drink can taint that noble Self Which knows Itself. Like rolling river free Thou ever be, Sannyasin bold ! Say'Om Tat Sat, Om

He reached Shivpuri the next day. A villager gave him some food. After taking rest for sometime, he started on

142 his journey, leaving half of his. luggage in the house of that villager . He reached Vasishtha Guha in the evening. The Lalaji was living there with a servant who was a local villager. Swamiji was very tired. He entered the cave and keeping his things there sat down to rest. The Lalaji did not even care to look at him. Swamiji told him that he was hungry and thirsty and asked for some provisions. Lalaji was a hardhearted person. He replied that there was nothing with him. Actually one could see many tins containing Atta, rice and other things. Swamiji had one or two rupees with him. So he said, "Do not these tins contain rice, flour and so on? You need not give me anything free of charge. Please take this money but do give me something." Lalaji was not moved by these requests . He had no pity or kind feelings. Swamiji did not know what to do. The villages were far away and it was already evening. But the Lord who helped him on various occasions, came to his rescue once again. He who declared "zIri W a gT;iu 1 proved the Truth of this declaration once again. Though the Lalaji was adamant his servant said to Swamiji, "Maharaj, please come with me. You may take food
I. "I secure gain and safety"-Gita IX-22.

143
in my, house and sleep there." He was a Pahadi Brahmin. Swamiji enquired how far his house was and the reply was `very near'. Swamiji accepted his invitation and accompanied him. He walked and walked but the village was nowhere to be seen. The servant, however, kept saying that the village was very near. This 'very near' meant not less than three miles of climbing up and down throughthe jungle. At last they reached his home. The house was on the top of a hill. There was a water spring nearby. Immediately on arrival Swamiji was given some milk to drink. At night he was given food and he rested there. The next day too he stayed there. On the third morning he started back for the cave. Reaching the cave he pondered over the situation and came to the conclusion that for a weak person like him it was impossible to stay there. He decided to return to Swargashram. He had hardly gone a hundred yards when something attracted him towards the cave. It was an indescribable power that pulled him. , Submitting himself to the Will of God, Swamiji turned back. The small cave where the Brahmacharin was living formerly, was vacant. He went and occupied that cave. (Visitors to the

144
Guha can see this cave now being used as a store room). A casual visitor to Vasishtha Guha may perhaps think that the Guha in those days was the same as it is to-day. That would be far from truth. Nowadays one can reach the place in less than half-an-hour from Rishikesh by a car. There is a good motorable road . Thirty years before there was no road to the Guha, not even a foot-path. One had to walk on the sand by the side of the Ganges and climb up the hills at some places. It took two to three days to reach the place from Rishikesh. Alternatively one could come along the opposite bank of the Ganges and cross it near the cave. The surroundings were not as clean as they are now. The whole place was a dense forest . Leopards came near the cave and the cobras were in plenty. There was not a single human being living within a radius of three miles. His earnest search for Truth , and faith in God gave him the strength to live in such a solitary place . The difficulties that he had to face and the trials that he was subjected to, are not known . Swamiji being shy of publicity, has not mentioned much about them in his autobiography. Yet we have some reliable information from those who served him at that timethe villagers who lived three miles away.

145
To return to our story, Swamiji occu pied the small cave. After taking bath, he sat for prayer and meditation. At about twelve noon, Villa, the servant of Lalaji came to him with some food on a leaf. Swamiji gratefully accepted the meal. He decided to remain there and face all the obstacles and trials. He had not brought half of his things with him. The next morning he told Lalaji that he was leaving his things there and going to Shivpuri to bring his belongings. He expected to be back the next day. But Lalaji was uncooperative as usual. He said, "I am not responsilble for anything. Don't leave anything here." Swamiji did not pay any heed to what Lalaji said and left everything there. He crossed the Ganges floating on an inflated bag. The timber contractors throw wooden sleepers into the Ganges and they come down along the current from Gangotri to Hardwar . Their workmen cross the river at various places to push back into the current the timber that gets entangled in the rocks. They do so by means of Sinai . The Sinai is the skin of a wild animal Genda. They stitch the openings and inflate it. When inflated, it looks like a living animal . They lie on this skin and beating the legs in the water and rowing with a small oar, cross the Ganges . Swamiji crossed the river

146
with one of the Sinaiwallas and reached Kotgaon on the other bank of the Ganges. From there he crossed the Ganges again and reached the house at Shivpuri where he had left his clothes. That night he slept there. The next day, he started early in the morning with his clothes and taking the same route, reached the cave in the afternoon. He was tired and hungry. He had nothing to eat. There was no scarcity of water, however. Ganges was flowing nearb, . Drinking some water, he relaxed in the small cave.

CHAPTER XIX

LIFE IN VASISHTHA GUHA


Next morning after his bath and prayer Swamiji felt hungry. The nearest village was three miles away and the path to it lay through hills and dales. He started for the village for Bhiksha. After covering half the way he found a big Peepul tree. Swamiji sat underneath it for some time and rested. He spotted a house nearby and went there for Bhiksha. On hearing his "Narayana Hari" a middle aged woman came out of the house and asked him what he wanted. Swamiji replied that he was hungry. She gave him something to eat. Swamiji relished the food as he was very hungry and after taking rest for some time, started for the. village where he could get Bhiksha. After covering half the distance he got lost in a thick forest. He could not find any foot-prints even to guide him. But he was not worried in the least. He considered the place best suited for meditation and sat down to Meditate. About an hour must have

147

148
elapsed when a villager happened to see him from a distance. Swamiji at that time was sitting with an aluminium vessel inverted on his head like a cap. The new comer took him to be a mad man and wanted to run away from him. He was afraid. Yet the better part in him prevailed and he felt that the stranger should not be left a prey to bears and leopards. With fear and suspicion he approached Swamiji and spoke to him. To make matters worse, Swamiji, because of his ignorance of the local dialect, replied more with gestures than words. This frightened the villager still further. Anyhow, after a little while he was able to understand that Swamiji had lost his way. He led him out of the forest and showed him the path to the village. Swamiji reached his destination at about three in the afternoon. The village is called Lorsi. It was populated mostly by Brahmins. The people in these parts were most backward. There was no education and cleanliness was something unknown to them. They took bath only twice or thrice a year on festivals like Maha Sivaratri. Things have now changed considerably. Education is slowly spreading in the villages, still they are very backward. Agriculture is their main occupation . The male members

149 work in the field. The women, however, bear the bulk of the physical labour. Apart from the household work, they look after the cattle, help the men in the field and collect fodder. Any one from the plains would be struck with awe to see Pahadi women cutting leaves for the cattle. They climb up tall trees and cut the leaves standing in most precarious positions. They reach home by the evening carrying on their backs huge loads of fodder. They have to bring water from long distances. The nearest source of water may sometimes be half a mile or more away. The quantity of water available is often very meagre. It may take ten minutes or more to fill a pot of one gallon from a spring. Because of this hard physical labour the women naturally look sturdier than men. Theft was unknown in those days but stealing and dacoity have penetrated the villages now. The people are very hospitable; if a Sadhu comes to their house they do not send him away without offering something. They have great Sraddha and devotion to Sadhus. Swamiji went round the village and got about four seers of provisions, enough for a fortnight. That night he stayed in the village and the next morning returned to the cave. After his

1'50
daily routine, he cooked a little Dal and Roti and had his meal. Lalaji now was, perhaps, convinced that Swamiji had settled himself there and will not go away. So he started showing small favours to him. He was an expert cook and would cook many dishes within a short time. Occasionally he invited Swamiji for meals but Swamiji kept himself away and did not like to ask him for anything. Once his fire went out and he had no matches with him. He preferred to go to the village, three miles away, through the jungle, going up hill and down dale rather than ask Lalaji for a match. At another occasion also he was in need of fire. He was reluctant to go all the way to the village and waste four precious morning hours. He was sitting and thinking about it when a man came on a catamaran from the other bank of the Ganges and gave him a box of matches. The same evening he received half-a-dozen match-boxes from a Mahatma at Rishikesh through somebody. He saw God's hand behind this. With faith in God and depending on His grace, Swamiji continued to live in the same small cave. The season of harvest came round. Swamiji had been advised by friends to store sufficient provisions for the rainy season when it would be impossible to

151
cross the small stream in front of the cave and go to the village. It happened that a former acquaintance, Swami Narayana Giri, came from Rishikesh to see Swamiji. Swamiji told him that he was leaving for the village for Bhiksha. The young Swami Narayana Giri, who respected Swamiji and had also served him previously, volunteered to accompany him and render assistance. Swamiji did not want to give trouble to any one but the young Swami was not to be put off easily. In the end Swamiji accepted his offer on the condition that he would agree to remain with him throughout the season and share whatever they got to which Swami Narayana Girl agreed. Together they went to three or four villages and at the end of two days, had collected more than a maund of wheat. The young Swami did not allow Swamiji to carry the load and carried it himself. The wheat was ground into flour and stored in tins. Swamiji believed that Narayana Giriji would remain with him but after the job was complete the young Swami quietly slipped away to Rishikesh. Yet another instance of how Swamiji was being helped from unexpected quarters ! Thus days passed on and the monsoon was also over. It was the month of September. The Ganges and the other

152
river had receded. His stock of salt was exhausted. He had, therefore, to go to the same village three miles away. On reaching there, he found only young boys and girls in the village. The men and women had left their houses early in the morning for the field. They had given strict instructions to the children not to give anything to anybody. Swamiji went to three or four houses, but the boys refused to give salt. Swamiji returned from the village and went to the house near the Peepul tree where he was offered food on his first visit. There also the elders were out and only their young son was at home. Swamiji asked him for salt, and the boy, without any hesitation, went inside and brought a handful of salt. He was very pleased and asked the boy what he wanted. He at once replied that he wanted to learn reading and writing. Bearing this in mind Swamiji returned to the cave. In his next visit to Rishikesh Swamiji bought a Hindi Primer, slate, paper and pencil and soon Shivanand-the boy who gave Swamiji salt-and his cousin started going to the cave for lessons. The boys cleaned vessels , carried water and did other odd jobs and Swamiji taught them various subjects specially Arithmetic and Hindi. Often he provided them with food also. To-day Shi-

153
vanand runs a grocer's shop and is also the President of the Village Panchayat. His cousin Mukund Ram is a government contractor. Shivanand's father was ever grateful to Swamiji and often went to the cave to pay his homage and offerings to him. During monsoon he and other villagers used to make the hazardous journey alongside the river and shout till Swamiji appeared. They would pay their respects and would then throw some food (properly tied in a cloth with a stone to give it due weight) across the river. They were all devoted to him and tried to serve him as best as they could. After a few months, Lalaji left for Saharanpur and Swamiji moved to the main cave. There was no door or any other protection in the cave. Serpents came in freely. One day in the afternoon, Swamiji was sitting in the innermost part of the cave and meditating. When he opened his eyes, he saw a very big snake coming near his seat which was a little above the ground level. Swamiji was not at all afraid. He closed his eyes again and continued the meditation. When he got up after sometime, he did not see the snake anywhere. During summer, occasionally some Sadhus came to visit the cave. As they were usually tired, they stayed for two or

154
three days before returning to Rishikesh. Swamji used to provide food for them. From the earliest days of his life in the cave, Swamji was able to offer food to guests. Nobody ever returned without food . He says it was all due to God's grace. How did he manage to feed so many people ? The Lord was running the show . The villagers , of their own accord, used to bring something now and then. He knew that if he requested the Kali Kamliwala Trust they would send provisions every month. But Swamiji had made up his mind not to approach them for Bhiksha . It was not without a reason that he took this decision . While staying at Brahmapuri, he used to go and get his fortnightly rations from them. On a particular day when he went there, the servants who distributed the provisions , ignored him . He was standing near them yet they took no notice of him . Whereupon he said, "If you feel like giving Bhiksha please do so. Otherwise I will return ". They did not like his remark. Though they gave the Bhiksha they sarcastically said, "Oh ! it seems you have come riding on a horse . Let it wait there". Swamiji was naturally hurt. On that day he prayed fervently to the Lord not to put him to humiliation at the hands of

155
such people . After this incident he lived on bel fruit for some months . He decided that it was better to beg of those who had some sympathy for him than to go to the Annakshetras. During those days he did not know many people . He, however , knew one gentleman in Sitapur who was a leading lawyer there . He had been introduced to Swamiji by Swami Sivananda when they were staying in Swargashram. This gentleman was a Kashmiri Brahmin and his name was Chand Narayan Harkauli . He became an ardent lover and devotee of Swamiji . He was a lover of Sadhus and used to serve them without the least thought of expense. His supreme Sadhana was Sadhu Seva (service to Sadhus). Whatever he gave, nobody would know , not even his own people. He was a noble person who did not care for name or fame. Swamiji describes him as a "Sage in disguise." Though he was in the family, he was not affected by anything. His life was like a lotus leaf on the water. Many a time he took Swamiji to Sitapur. When Swamji was staying in Brahmapuri he had asked him for some monetary help, which he gladly sent. He also stressed that Swami need not hesitate to ask anything he needed. This was perhaps immediately after the Anna-

156
kshetra incident. Swamji says that he does not remember to have asked him or anybody else for any assistance thereafter. This strengthened his faith in the mercy of the Lord and His protection.

CHAPTER XX

IN KASHMIR : AMARNATH
It was about the year 1930 when Swamiji thought of a pilgrimage to the Holy Amarnath and other places in Kashmir. That year he happened to go to Sitapur. After a few days' stay there he proceeded to Rawalpindi and from there to Srinagar. He had no acquaintance in Kashmir. But he had faith in divine help. Somebody happened to meet him and became a devotee. He took Swamiji in a house-boat in the Jhelum. Swamiji enjoyed the stay in the boat for a few days, completely away from the land. He, then, visited all the important places. The most important place of all in Kashmir is Amarnath. Swamiji was eager to have Darshan of the ice Siva Lingam formed in the cave. During the Yatra season he started along with the pilgrims, and reached Amarnath cave. After Darshan, he returned to Srinagar . We do not have much information of his Kashmir trip. Before the winter set in, he returned to Rishikesh en route to Vasishtha Guha. 157

159
Now Swamiji was alone in the cave once again. The boys, Shivanand and Mukund Ram, also started coming. When the boys of the neighbourhood found that these boys were able to read and write, they also began to come for lessons. Swamiji was hard pressed for time. Still he taught some of them. Once again he went away from the cave for a few months. When he returned he found a Brahmacharin living in the main cave. Without disturbing him, Swamiji occupied the small cave in which he lived for the first few months when Lalaji was in the main cave. Thereafter he moved to Bhingni, about a mile away, and lived there in a grass hut for two years. This place is now known as Ananda Kashi where the Ganges is Uttaravahini (flowing towards the North). During winter season he used to shift to the old cave in Brahmapuri. The two boys used to live with him there also. Swamiji would take them whenever he went to Rishikesh. Every year he used to attend the birthday celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda at Kankhal Ashrama. Once he took these boys also with him. They had learnt some portions of Tulsi Ramayana which they recited to the pleasant surprise of the audience.

CHAPTER XXI VASISHTHA GUHA COMING TO LIMELIGHT Swamiji arrived at Rishikesh from Srinagar (Kashmir). He had been away from the cave for more than six months. So some Sadhus took it for granted that he had left it for good and occupied it. When Swamiji reached Rishikesh, he was informed of this by some friends. Anyway, he started for the cave and reached the place one evening. There were three or four young Sadhus in the main cave. They did not want to leave the place. But Swamiji did not bother. He entered the cave and kept his luggage there. When they found him moving about with full freedom they changed their plan. After staying with Swamiji for a couple of days, they left the place. Swamiji, according to his habit, gave them ten rupees for their expenses. Before settling down, he had to remove the silt and sand that had been brought by the river during the floods. The Sadhus had installed a Siva Linga in the cave. That Lingam is still there. 158

161 160
Days were passing on smoothly. Swa miji had again moved to Vasishtha Guha. The Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal was planning to connect Rishikesh and Kirti. nagar by a road for the benefit of the pilgrims visiting Badrinath . The survey party intended to take the road through Lorsi village which meant displacement of all the inhabitants . They were worried. They had no courage to protest to the officials . So they approached Swamiji who had by now become their friend, philosopher and guide , and acqu ainted him with the situation. They pleaded for his intervention and help. Swamiji assured them that he will do what he can . They were all glad. They knew that if Swamiji sympathised with them he would definitely find out a remedy. One night at about nine o'clock when Swamiji was engrossed in meditation in the innermost part of the cave someone came to the door and called for him. Swamiji invited the visitor inside. He was an Overseer of the Public Works Department , who was known well to Swamiji. He said that the Dewan of the State, Pandit Chakradhar , and his retinue had come to see Swamiji and were waiting outside the cave. When Swamiji went out he was surprised to find some forty or fifty persons sitting there. They rose and saluted him. Swamiji gathered from their conversation that they had no provisions with them and he immediately gave them all that he had in the cave-two tins of wheat flour , a little Dal and some tapioca root which a Sadhu from Rishikesh had given him. The servants prepared a simple meal which was enjoyed by all. This was the first time that they were tasting tapioca root and it was very much liked by them. Swamiji invited the Chief Engineer and the Dewan into the cave and told them of the grievance of the people of Lorsi. They promised to give the matter their serious consideration . Then the Dewan sprung a surprise by offering to build a ` pucca' Ashrama for Swamiji. Swamiji was not in favour of any Ashrama or any kind of building for that matter , but in his usual polite way he answered , " Yes, yes." The Dewan did not . lose time and first thing he did next morning was to ask Swamiji to take the Chief Engineer and show him a plot where the Ashrama could be built. Thereafter he left for Lorsi and Swamiji and the Chief Engineer set out to visit the plot where Swamiji had a grass hut for two years at Bhingni. On their way back to the. cave the Chief Engineer confide d in Swamiji and told him that the motive behind the Dewan ' s seemingly generous

-162 offer was that he. wanted to get possession of the cave . Swamiji was not disturbed, his reply ' was: "Let us wait and see". Three days later , at eight o'clock in the morning . the Dewan turned up at the cave again. He said that he wanted to give orders for the building work to commence . Swamiji invited him inside the cave and . lost no time in coming to the point . " Tell me, Dewan Sahib ," he said , " What is the motive behind your offer ? We are Bhikshus and can live anywhere. If you want to take possession of the cave tell me plainly." The Dewan was taken aback. He did not expect such bold words from a Sadhu. He immediately fell at the feet of Swamiji and mumbled, "0 ! it is strange . How can I have such a thought " and so on. Thereafter the Dewan did not prolong his visit. However , the Dewan Sahib changed the course of the road . The people of Lorsi were happy. He gave orders for the road to be taken by the side of the Ganges . And to-day thousands of pilgrims who travel by bus to Badrinath, having the Darshan of Mother Ganges, do not know of the part played by Swamiji in making their journey such a happy one.

163 The work; on the road was progressing rapidly. By 1933 the road had 'reached above the cave and Vasishtha Guha that was unknown till then, came to limelight. Pilgrims going to Badrinath started getting down and coming to visit the cave. The legend is that the Sage Vasishtha had done Taasya here in the days of yore and the' cave , is known after him. Naturally people were tempted to visit a cave sanctified by the association of such a sage as Vasishtha. Swamiji's presence there was an added attraction . By now Swamiji was known to many people and many were influenced by his saintliness . The story of his early days in the cave became known and people respected him for his courage and faith in God. Once the late Maharaja of Tehri visited him with his queen .. Since then both of them became devoted to him and used to visit him frequently . During that period, a gentleman from Kanpur came and stayed near the cave in a tent. While going, ,he placed some money at the feet of Swamiji' out of respect and devotion for him. When the money came unexpectedly, Swamiji ' s thoughts went to Badrinath. He had desired to stay at Badrinath for some time , but could . not do so during his earlier visit. So now he started for

164
the place with Mukund Ram. This time he took sufficient clothes as his idea was to stay at Badrinath for a few months. The jourr y was performed on foot. Passing through all the, Chattis and important places, Swamiji reached Rudra Prayag. There Mukund Ram fell ill. So far he had carried Swamiji's kit. On the way, Swamiji occasionally relieved him of the burden and thus helped him. Now that he was sick, it was not proper to ask him to carry the load. They halted at Rudra Prayag for a couple of days. Swamiji gave him some medicine also. Mukund Ram improved. From there Swamiji engaged a cooly to carry the load and they started their trek. Kedarnath was omitted as Swamiji had already hada Darshan of Kedarnath Mahadeva. His thoughts were all for Badrinath. Going through Karna Prayag, Pipalkoti and Joshi Math, Swamiji reached Badrinath for the second time. With the help of one of his old acquaintances , Swami Paramananda, Swamiji got a Kuti to live in. After a couple of days, he sent Mukund Ram home with an escort. His days at Badrinath were spent happily-early morning bath in Tapa Kund followed by Darshan of the Lord. He joined the Pandits in the recitation of Purushasuktam, Bhagavad Gita,Vishnu Sahasranama

165
and other scriptures. Days were passing on like this happily when he fell ill. Severe cough and fever afflicted him. He started taking medicines from the hospital but that did not help. He was suffering much. But a devotee cannot suffer for long. The All-Merciful Lord came to his rescue. One night he dreamt of a Vaidya and somebody told him that by taking his medicines, he would be all right . soon. He had not seen the Vaidya before. Next morning, to his -utter surprise, the Vaidya whom Swamiji saw in his dream the previous night, came in front of his Kuti. Swamiji immediately recognised him and called him inside. With his treatment Swamiji became all right within a short period. During his illness, Swami Paramananda nursed him and served him with love and affection. Guru Poornima was approaching. The Full Moon day coming in the month of Ashad (June July) is known as Vyasa Poornima. As Bhagavan Vyasa is considered the first Guru (teacher) it is' known as Guru Poornima also. On this day, the disciples worship their Guru. This is a great day and is observed in a special manner at Badrinath. Since the idol was installed by Sri Sankaracharya, .the Rawal Saheb considers him as his Guru and, instead of worshipping the

166
Acharya's image or picture , the Puja is offered to four Sannyasins of the Dasanami Order founded by`Sri Sankara. After the morning Puja in the temple, the-Rawal Saheb comes to the place of Guru Puja and worships them in orthodox style. He presents them clothes and Dakshina, and formally accepts them as his Guru. For four months from that day, they are given free rations by the temple authorities. Swamiji was one of the four selected for the Pula and was thus spared the trouble of going to the Annakshetra for Bhiksha. Swamiji stayed in Badrinath for a few months. He had the opportunity of seeing the special Puja offered on Janmashtami (Sri Krishna Jayanti). After this day, Sadhus return to the plains as winter begins . Swamiji's health, especially the rheumatic leg, did not permit him to stay in severe cold. So he left the place a few days after the Janmashtami . This time he engaged a cooly to carry his load. He reached the village called Nayi , six or seven miles from the cave. It was mid-day and he was hungry and thirsty. He asked the villagers for some food and drink. Nobody was prepared to give anything. He placed all the money he had on the ground and told them to take any, amount they needed and give him

167
something to drink at least some mattha (buttermilk ). Still they would not give He was surprised at him anything . their attitude. He, therefore, threatened a man with the staff he had, lifting it as if to beat him. It worked . Within a second they all ran hither and thither and brought milk, curd, buttermilk and , fruits and piled them in front of Swamiji. He wanted only a little milk or curd. After taking what he needed , he offered them money . In spite of his repeated attempts, they refused to accept it. He rested there for sometime and started for Lorsi which he reached towards the evening . He stayed there for the night. Shivanand and Mukund Ram were, happy to see Swamiji back . The next morning he reached Vasishtha, Guha and passed a peaceful life for somemonths.

169
One day he set out on his journey and halted at Vrindaban for a month. From there he proceeded to Belur Math (Calcutta) visiting Kanpur and some other places en route. By this time Swami Shivananda (Mahapurush Maharaj) who had given him Sannyasa, had passed away. Sudhir Maharaj (Swami Shuddhananda), who was then President, showed him great kindness. Swamiji stayed at Belur Math for a few days. Next Swamiji went to Puri and from there to Madras where he stayed at the Ramakrishna Math for a few days. In the meantime Swamiji had been informed that owing to some differences Swami Nirmalananda was no longer at Bangalore and had moved to the Ashrama at Ottapalam. Swamiji therefore made his way to that place. When he arrived he found Swami Nirmalananda working in the garden. He.went straight to him and fell at his feet. It was a touching reunion. They went indoors and had a long talk-all were happy to meet him as it was his first visit after Sannyasa. At Swami Nirmalananda's wish Swamiji remained at Ottapalam for some days and attended to some work in the Ashram a. His desire to visit Tiruvalla, his birth place, was increasing. When he inform-

CHAPTER XXII

VISIT TO THE LAND OF BIRTH Friends of earlier days frequently wrote to Swamiji expressing the hope that he would some day visit his native place. A few of these friends had become Sannyasins. Their letters awakened in Swamiji past memories and at times he promised himself such a visit specially when he recalled to mind his Guru, Swami Nirmalananda and all that he owed to him. Although he was initiated by Swami Brahmananda, it was Swami Nirmalananda who gave him practical training and guidance. One day- he received a letter from Tiruvalla Ashrama. It was written by Swami Vageeswarananda saying that he and a few others would start for Vasishtha Guha if Swamiji did not pay them a visit. Although Swamiji did not relish the idea of leaving the cave, he was deeply touched by their love and kind thoughts for himself and replied to say that they could expect him in near future.

168

170
ed Swami Nirmalananda about it, he allowed him to go there. Swamiji, visited the Ashramas at Ernakulam, Alleppey and some other, places of interest on the way and reached the new Tiruvalla Ashrama one afternoon. The new Ashrama was constructed during Swamiji's absence. During his early days at Tiruvalla, he tried to get a better Ashrama particularly with the purpose of providing comfort to Swami Nirmalananda who used to visit the place every year. Due to his initiative a plot of land was obtained which was approved by Nirmalanandaji. Soon after Swamiji left the place. Now a building had been completed on the plot and the new Ashrama was functioning well at the time of Swamiji's visit. He was very pleased to see it. Swami Vageeswarananda was in the Ashrama. He was pleased to receive Swamiji after so many years. From the next day people, known to him, started pouring in. He stayed in the Ashrama for a few days. During this period he paid a visit to his former house-the place where he was born -and to the temple of Sri Vallabha. He was continually moving. People brought cars and took him to various places. From Tiruvalla he went to the Ashrama at Haripad. It was a sacred

171
place for it was here that he got initiation . from Sri Maharaj. Visiting all the Ashramas en route, he finally reached Cape Comorin. He . stayed there for a few days. He had intended to proceed to Vasishtha Guha from there via Madura and Tamilnad but Nirmalanandaji wrote to him to go via Ottapalam, which meant , returning by the same route. Swamiji obeyed his command and arrived at Ottapalam. According to Swami Nirmalananda's instructions , he started reading Bhagavatam and explaining it to the devotees who came to . the, Ashrama. A few days passed like this. Swamiji was .eager to return to the North but Nirmalanandaji had no mind to release him. One day Nirmalanandaji told him to go to Triuvalla Ashrama and stay there. He agreed. But the atmosphere to which Swamiji was being sent was not very congenial . While on his way to Cape Comorin, he had sensed that some of the Ashramas were against Swami Nirmalanandaji. The Swamis, many of them his own disciples, had no Sraddha or devotion to him. It was to this atmosphere that Swamiji was being sent. Swami Nirmalananda gave him a fetter to the Swami in charge of the Ashrama at Tiruvalla saying "I am sending Purushottamananda to the

173
172 Ashrama and every one must obey him implicitly." Swamiji left for Tiruvalla. But he had no desire to live in Ashramas. His plan was to go there, bring about a rapproachment between the brothers at Tiruvalla and Swami Nirmalanandaji and then leave for North India again. With this idea he reached Tiruvalla Ashrama one evening. Only a Brahmacharin was there at that time. All the others had gone out. After bath and Darshan he attended the Arati and sat down in a corner. The inmates returned. Everyone of them, all disciples of Swami Nirmalanandaji, saw him sitting there but nobody had the courtesy to talk to him. They must have known the purpose of his visit. Time passed on. Swamiji was sitting in the same place. It was time for the meal. One boy came and invited him for food. He was hungry but seeing the attitude of the people there, he did not like to take food. But to refuse food when one is a guest is also not good. So half-heartedly he entered the dining hall. He saw that all of them were taking food and had served food for him in a corner. That was very humiliating. Swamiji was one of the earliest workers of Tiruvalla Ashrama. He was the first Brahmacharin to live there and work for the Ashrama . He was a foundation member. And now he was being treated so badly. However, he ate a little and slept in the verandah. Next morning after bath he went out of the Ashrama. He did not like to stay there even for a moment . He went to the shop close to the Ashrama and took a cup of milk and some fruits and spent some time thinking of the next step to be taken . He had not spoken a word about the letter he was carrying. He went to Sankaraveli House to discuss the. problem with his boyhood friend, Narayana Pillai . The friend' s opinion was that Swamiji should not leave the Ashrama; he should stay there.. But Swamiji told him that it was not his intention to stay there even for a moment if the inmates of the Ashrama had any objection as he did not want to live there forcibly. In the afternoon `he left for the Ashrama to discuss the matter with the authorities. On arrival he found that the inmates were all out; only a Brahmacharin was there. He waited for others to come. When every one was back Swamiji asked the Brahma'charin to deliver the letter to the Swami ez in charge . He refused. Thereupon . Swamiji himself went inside and stood in front of the chief of the Ashrama. But he did not look at him ! Swamiji

174
said " I have come here in obedience to the orders of Swamiji (Nirmalanandaji). You may see this letter if you please" and placed the letter in his hands. He opened it , read it with indifference and with a contemptuous expression on his face, threw it on the ground . Swamiji could not bear such an insult . So far he was being insulted. Now they insulted Nirmalanandaji . He immediately protested against the action of the Mahant and saying that the letter was very sacred and valuable to him, picked it up and keeping it on his head with reverence, walked out . He decided not to get himself entangled in that dirty atmosphere and left the place . By evening he reached Adoor , a nearby place, where he had a friend who was a devotee of Swami Nirmalanandaji and stayed with him. He wrote a detailed letter to Nirmalanandaji and decided to stay there till he got a reply . Instead of sending a reply, Nirmalanandaji sent a disciple of his to explain matters to Swamiji and to inform him that he (Nirmalanandaji ) was coming to Adoor. Swamiji waited but his mind was in Vasishtha Guha. Nirmalanandaji could not come on the appointed day. Swamiji stayed for some more days and finally, after discusing the situation with some of Nirmalanandaji 's devotees , he dropped

175
a letter to him, saying " Seeing the present state of the Ashramas in Travancore, I - find it difficult to stay in any one of them. With Swamiji ' s kind permission I am leaving for North India, only to come again whenever Your Holiness wants me." He proceeded to Madras via Madura. Leaving Madras , Swamiji's next halt was at Rajahmundry where he stayed with a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. He stayed there for a fortnight . During his stay there he participated in the birthday celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna. From there he proceeded to Bhadrachalam, famous for its Sri Rama temple, and thence to Kanpur. Spending a few days at Kanpur he proceeded to Gita Press, Gorakbpur , from where he had an invitation to attend the Akhanda Nama Kirtan that was being conducted there. After a week ' s stay at Gorakhpur, a few days at Lucknow and Sitapur, he reached Vasishtha Guha, his favourite abode.

177
days of solitary life gradually passed away. More and more people started coming to visit _the cave and have his Darshan. Once the - then Prince of Nepal visited him and invited him, to his country. Accepting his invitation, Swamiji went there for a few days before Maha Sivarati, a festival during which thousands of pilgrims visit Pasupatinath. From Raxaul, the last railhead, Swamiji was a Royal guest. The Prince arranged for a very comfortable journey. Swamiji was received by the Prince with due respect. A small crowd was awaiting Swamiji's arrival. Swamiji stayed in an Ashrama,, two or three miles away from the palace. The Prince himself looked to the arrangements for Swamiji's comfortable stay. Next morning the Prince took him in his car to Pasupatinath temple. Here the idol is a Siva Lingam. It is about four feet high with five faces-four on four sides and one on top. The sanctum sanctorum has doors on four sides and worship is offered from all the four sides. During the Puja time people flock to all the doors. Swamiji had a pleasant time, having Darshan there. For the sake of convenience, Swamiji shifted to a Dharmasala near the temple. His food and other requirements were coming from the palace. Everyday he conducted eligious discourses. Spending a week

CHAPTER XXIH

QUIET LIFE AGAIN : SHORT VISIT TO NEPAL


The life in Vasishtha Guha was quiet and peaceful . Swamiji says that the cave, Vasishtha Guha, has solved many problems for him , whether they were distrurbances of his own mind, or difficulties of others . The moment he sits in meditation inside the cave , all troubles vanish like darkness before light. He now turned more and more towards Vedanta and started reading books on the subject. Bhagavatam was no longer - a favourite . He had already presented his own copy of the Bhagavatam to somebody when he first started his journey into the field of Vedanta at Uttarkashi . He passed very happy and pleasant days. When he returned from the South the road was constructed up to Kirtinagar. This resulted in Vasishtha Guha becoming easily accessible and consequently getting more publicity . Swamiji's name also started spreading. His old

176

178
or so after Sivaratri, Swamiji started for the plains. The Prince sent an escort with him up to Raxaul from where he went to Lucknow and Sitapur and then returned to Vasishtha Guha. At Lucknow he stayed at Shukla Ghat. It is a building constructed on the banks of the Gomati by Devi Prasad Shukla in memory of his wife. He was a man who spent a lot of money for charitable and religious purposes. Gradually he become an ardent devotee of Swamiji. He was also running an English Middle School which he was thinking of converting into a High School. The foundation stone of the high school was laid by Swamiji. The institution has now risen to the standard of an Intermediate College. Swamiji used to visit the school and give advice to the students. At Shukla Ghat, during Swamiji's stay, there used to be a regular religious programme everyday. -Apart from-Puja, reading of the Gita and the Bhagavatam, Swamiji conducted discourses. This programme is still followed whenever Swamiji visits Lucknow and stays there. After a short stay, Swamiji returned to Vasishtha Guha.

CHAPTER XXIV

SWAMIJI STARTS A SCHOOL Swamiji says that the amount of help he has obtained in the spiritual field by his stay in Vasishtha Guha, is inestimable. For every action he performs, he gets the inspiration from the Guha. One day Swamiji was meditating in the cave. It was about two in the afternoon. He heard a voice, rather he thought he .heard a voice. It said " Begin a School." Thinking it to be a mere trick of imagi. nation he dismissed it and continued the meditation. Again the same words -fell on -his ears. When this was repeated twice or thrice he was convinced that it was a divine instruction. He came out of the cave. There were a few persons outside. He told them that he intended to start a school but they discouraged him. They were doubtful if the parents would send their sons to school. They are agriculturists and need the help of the boys in the field. Some of the local people also discouraged him. So Swamiji tried- to give up the idea but found the

179

180 inner urge too strong for him. He, therefore, went to Narendranagar and met the Maharaja to ask for his help. As His Highness was a devotee of Swamiji there was no difficulty in persuading him to open --a school in that locality. Before long, the Government of Tehri-Garhwal opened a primary school. A little - later Swamiji thought of raising it to the stan dard of a middle school . He wrote to the Government and they agreed to help in the running of the school provided Swamiji got the building constructed. Swamiji'. s disciples and devotees started collecting funds for the purpose. Some help came from the' Government also. The "Vasishtha Junior High School" started functioning in its new building in the year 1948. Soon after this his leg started paining again. His body also became weak. The pain became unbearable . He went to the Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama at Kankhal and had some treatment. From there he went to Madras and stayed in the Narayana Sevashrama at Kancheepuram , undergoing some ayurvedic treatment and massage. In about two months, the leg was all right. At that time he received a wire from a devotee at Nagpur who was seriously ill and requested Swamiji to visit him. The devotee was Dr. R. C. Shukla of Luck-

181 now, who was then living in Nagpur. He had known Swamiji for many years. He had visited Vasishtha Guha many a time and spent his vacations there when he was a student. He, his father and his family, all had complete faith in Swamiji. On receiving the telegram Swamiji immediately left for Nagpur. The doctor was on the platform to receive him. He looked ill and weak. Swamiji went to his house. Everyone in the family was happy. The doctor was suffering from an attack of nervous breakdown and exhaustion. Within a couple of days of Swamiji's arrival, he was quite well. Swamiji's presence and blessings made . him all right. From Nagpur, Swamiji returned to the Guha again, after visiting Lucknow.

. 183 :.
bring him to his place.' On Swantiji's arrival, his Darashan made the judge forget his illness . He got up and sat in his bed. Soon after some people came and invited Swamiji to a nearby temple where Bhagavata recital was going on. Panickar who was bed-ridden all these days, got up and accompanied him in the car to the temple : He had great faith in and devotion towards Swamiji. Visiting many places here and there Swamiji reached Guruvayur. The temple authorities made all arrangements for his stay there. At their request he conducted religious discourses during his three days' stay. Once again he was on the move and after visiting- Trichur Ernakulam and Trivandrum, he 'reached Cape Comorin. The temple authorities made good arrangements for his three day stay. He returned to Trivandrum. Swami Tapasyananda , the head of the u amakrishna Ashrama there, was \ glad to see him. Swamiji wanted. to visit the Vattiyoor Kavu Ashrama, ' near Trivandrum. Swami Tapasyananda himself took him there and made arrangements for his stay. Swamiji stayed there for three days. Again visiting many friends and devotees and places, he reached Tiruvalla, his birth place. This time he had not to face the treatment he got

CHAPTER XXV

TO KERALA AGAIN
During the year 1951 Swamiji went to Delhi where he stayed with a devotee for a few days. From there he proceeded to Madras and stayed in the Ramakrishna Math. The Swamis at the Math were glad to see him. Some students who used to come to the Math regularly, met him everyday for Satsang. From Madras he went to Ottapalam. Sri Swami Nirmalanandaji had attained Maha Samadhi in 1938. It was at the Ottapalarn Ashrama that he left his body. For the disciples and devotees of Swami Nirmalanandaj1, therefore, Ottapalam has become a sacred place. A little away from Ottapalam there is a place called Cheruppullasseri. Sri Kundu Panickar, the retired District & Sessions judge was living there. He was a devotee of Swamiji. He was ailing from various diseases and was bed-ridden. He was unable even to turn in bed. When he came to know that Swamiji was at Ottapalam, he sent his son with a car to

182

1$4
during his earlier -visit to the Ashrama.' He stayed there also for three days. The then Rawal Saheb of Badrinath was staying in a nearby place called Talavady. Swamiji had known him from Badrinath. The Rawal Saheb is always a Kerala Brahmin. Whenever a vacancy' arises, the Maharaja of Tehri requests the Maharaja of Travancore to select a person for the post. The latter recommends a candidate and the Maharaja of Tehri appoints him after an interview. On` learning that Swamiji was at Tiruvalla the Rawal Saheb invited him to his place and sent a special boat to bring him. Swamiji accepted the invitation. From there he proceeded to the Ashrama at Haripad. Again after going from place to place, he reached Pallickal, near Kayamkulam, where one of his disciples, Swami Balananda, had invited him to bless his Ashrama which was under construction. From Kayamkulam Swamiji was taken to the Ramakrishna Ashrama at Muttam. At this place an interesting incident happened. One afternoon Swamiji was conducting Satsang. Many people were present. In the group was .a young boy of seven or eight. Swamiji's attention fell on him. Immediately he felt a special attraction for the boy, who felt the same for Swamiji. Swamiji asked him to sit near him arid meditate. A special

t85'
lustre was' noticed. on the boy's _ face. For about fifteen minutes he was in deep meditation.- Not-only Swamiji but everybody present, was surprised and. glad. The boy's name is Bhaktavatsalan. He was from. a Nair family but his father was a Brahmin-a Nambudiri. Swamiji told him to initiate the boy into Brahma= charyashrama by investing him with a sacred thread and giving him Gayatri Mantra. Swamiji pressed him to do this because he felt that the boy had a bright future. He also convinced him that one is not a Brahmin by birth but by deeds, and that though the boy was a Nair, he need not hesitate in initiating him in the Brahmacharyashrama. The father agreed with him in principle but . was not prepared to act against the age old custom. Blessed indeed is Bhaktavatsalan ! Again after short visits to many, he reached Kaladi, the birth place of Sri Sankaracharya. Swami Agamananda, the head of Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, was very pleased to see him after a number of years. He passed a few days pleasantly in the Ashrama, by the side of the river Poorna. The Ashrama was running a high school which Swamiji used to visit.' He talked to the students . From Kaladi, he returned to Ottapalam, halting on the way at Tri-

186
chur and Calicut . He visited Pallickal for a second time and performed the opening cermony of Swami Balananda's Ashrama.
Swami Kailashanandaji, the President of the Ramakrishna Math at Madras had pressed him to come to the Math on his way back to North India. So, leaving Ottapalam and bidding farewell to Kerala, Swamiji reached Madras Ashrama the next day. From there he proceeded to Shukla 'Ghat at Lucknow and after a few days' stay there, reached Vasishtha Guha.

CHAPTER XXVI

SHORT VISITS
In the year 1952, at the earnest request of a devotee from Delhi, Swami41 went with him to Bombay. He stayed in a palatial and beautiful bungalow on the Malabar Hill. During his one month's stay there, he used to go, almost every evening, to the sea for bathing. He visited the important temples such as Mahalakshmi and Mumbadevi and also some of the Ashramas and Sadhus in Bombay and its vicinity. From there he went to Lucknow and thence to, the Guha. In 1953 he visited Simla. A month's stay there improved his health. Then he proceeded to Lucknow and from there, he returned to Vasishtha Guha. In the year 1954 he visited Allahabad for the Prayag Kumbha Mela. Poorna Kumbha is held once in twelve years. Although Kumbha Melas are held in Ujjain,-Hardwar and Nasik also at different periods, the one at Prayag is considered most important and sacred,

187

188
probably due to the fact that the bathing is in the confluence of India's three most sacred . rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati , which is believed to be invisible . It may be due to this - fact that Prayag is called Tirtha Raja , the King of , Tirthas . No other place is sanctified by such great and holy rivers as Prayag . Lakhs of pilgrims assemble there to bathe in the Sangam. Sadhus of all denominations , Mandaleswars , Nagas, Udasis, Dasanami Sannyasins, Vaishnavites -all camp on the banks of the Ganges for a few days in tents . Swamiji had previously bathed in Prayag on many Kumbha Melas (Poorna and Ardha Kumbhas). This year also he visited Prayag and camped there for a few days. That year a great tragedy occurred on the main bathing day , when hundreds of pilgrims , men, women and children' of all ages and classes were crushed to death in the Sangam area . Perhaps no other religious congregation has recorded such a tragedy in India ' s history. Fortunately for us , Swamiji and his devotees had finished bathing in the Sangam much 'earlier than the time when the tragedy occurred. From Prayag he went to Lucknow and stayed at Shukla Ghat . Due to the severe cold that year ' he had an attack of

189
fever and the leg also started giving pain. Swamiji was indifferent about treatment. But his devotees brought doctors and Vaidyas and he had - to submit to their pleadings . He underwent some Ayurvedic treatment and that gave him much relief. After observing Maha Sivaratri there, he returned to the Guha via Delhi.

191
path which left up to the road was under water and another way up had to be Storing as many things discovered. as possible in the upper cave (which is on a higher level than the main cave), the inmates left the place in a couple of hours. 'In the meantime some people of the neighbouring villages also came to help. Everyone at the Guha came up and was safe . The Ganges was rising every minute. But everyone was anxious about the German lady in the solitary cave. Swamiji deputed some people to get down, to that cave from the road and rescue her. There was no regular path. Those who made the attempt had to return as it was almost a straight drop from the road to the cave and there was nothing on the rocks to which one could hold on for support.' One of the Brahmacharins, while'niaking, the attempt, slipped and fell head downwards. He was slipping fast and was heading towards the waters of the Ganges. All others were helpless. ; Swamiji was in the Ashram buildings, more than two furlongs away. Everyone was praying in his heart of hearts. Their only hope lay in Swamiji' s grace. They looked to him for help. And to ! the Brahmacharin who was heading towards water was checked by a small stump of grass. He lay prostrate and unconscious. Others

CHAPTER XXVII

THE GREAT FLOOD AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS


The year 1956 became memorable in the history of Vasishtha Guha and also in the life of Swamiji. We have seen how on various occasions he was saved from the jaws of death. Yet another example of how the Lord protects His devotees will be seen from the following event. It was the month of October. The Ganges was far away from the cave. Life was going on smoothly at the Guha. Swamiji was staying in the room near the main cave and some disciples were living inside the cave. A foreign lady was living in the small cave down below. As usual everyone had his food and went to bed one night. In the morning when they got up they could not believe their eyes. The Ganges which was far away the previous night was now flowing at the door of the cave! Swamiji ordered everybody to shift to the Ashram building near the school. The usual

190

192
now made attempts to climb down and pick him . up but were unsuccessful. In the meantime , to the surprise of all, the unconscious Brahmacharin got up and holding small stumps ' of grass, began to climb towards the road. His attempt was successful but on reaching the road he fell unconscious again . All of them started attending to him . It was after a very long time that he regained consciousness. Let us now turn to the plight of the lady. The cave is on a higher level. In the early hours of the morning, the water level was only a few inches below the door. She was helpless. She simply watched the furious waters in front of her and was looking for help . She knew . that only Providence could help her. She did not know what was happening on the road . By the grace of the Almighty, she noticed a wooden sleeper coming near the Gave and circling by the side of the mountain. This sleeper came twice near the door and floated away. She took it as God-sent help and when it came to the door , for the , third time, leaving all her costly things . in the cave, she sat on it and catching the vegetation on the side of the hill, moved slowly in.the water . When . she reached a place where she could hold on to some shrubs she left the sleeper and started

193
to climb. Everybody was glad and surprised when she came in their midst and enquired what had happened to the person lying on the road. Thus by the grace of the Lord, no life was lost. By twelve noon the water entered the 01 main cave. After two days when it had receded to some extent , it was found that the cave had been flooded up to four or five feet. The doors and the kitchen shed had been washed away. The place looked desolate. But within a short period everything was repaired and once again the Guha started humming with activity. The flood had washed away the thick jungle in front of the cave, which was Swamiji's favourite spot for meditation . On the elevated place a new building was put up. It was only by early 1957 that the building was completed. Had there been no flood, Swamiji would not, perhaps, have constructed a building near the cave at all. The thick jungle with tall trees would have added to the natural beauty of the place. This was the second great flood that entered Vasishtha Guha after Swamiji made it his abode, the previous one being during the period he was away to Amarnath . During the rainy season it is not uncommon for the Ganges to come up to the cave. Once in two or

194
three years it happens , floods are not common. but such big

195
Every year more and more people come to have his Darshan and advice. His eightieth birthday, celebrated on the twenty-first November 1958, was ample proof of his popularity. In the secluded spot, about fourteen miles away from Rishikesh, more than fifteen hundred people had gathered for the occasion and all were fed sumptuously. Some of his devotees at Lucknow found that Shukla Ghat was not comfortable for Swamiji to stay. So they constructed a new cottage close to the building at Shukla Ghat for him. Swamiji had no mind to move from But letters , appeals, and the cave . telegrams started pouring in from Lucknow. They pleaded that the cottage they had specially constructed for him should be blessed by his visit. The invitations were pressing. The sincere love of the devotees moved him and he left for Delhi on the New Year day of 1959. Spending a week there he left for Lucknow. The devotees were glad. They arranged a Bhagavata Saptaha also. The lady Principal of the local girls ' college invited Swamiji to her residence . He spent a pleasant afternoon listening to the Bhajans and. Ramayana sung by some of the students who were present. Swamiji spoke to the girls and gave them inspiring advice. After

Towards the end of 1957 Swamiji went to the plains at the request of devotees . Visiting Delhi and Lucknow he went to Allahabad and stayed there for about a month. People from the South also were writing to him to visit and bless them . One of his disciples had constructed an Ashrama and he wanted its opening ceremony to be performed by Swamiji . So he made another trip to Kerala. Reaching Madras, he stayed there for a few days and left for Ottapalam . He visited almost all the familiar places and Ashramas. Whenever he visits South, he floes not miss Guruvayur . He went there also and stayed for a few days . Tiruvalla, Trivandrum , Haripad and other Ashramas were visited and finally he reached the southern - most tip of India, Kanya Kumari. Nearly a week was spent there. Swamiji's disciples , some of them Sannyasins , had made his name known to many people . Therefore, there were many visitors , and many devotees came for initiation . He also inaugurated the "Omkarashrama " of Swami Sambananda at Desamangalam. After touring Kerala for two months, he returned to Guha via Madras and Lucknow.

' 196
spending about three weeks there he returned to Vasishtha Guha and is leading a happy life. May he be pleased to live long to lead the spiritual aspirants to their goal. Let us pray to Him :Srqd^ zTT

EPILOGUE
Hitherto we have mentioned events as written by Swamiji in his `Atma Katha' (autobiography) in Malayalam. We have made very few additions. We have not included those incidents of his life about which he has talked to us on one occasion or another.' In this section we propose to give these incidents and also some other reliable information that we have been able to secure from certain authoritative publications. We will also give a brief account of his day-to -day life. Generally there is a tendency on the part of the disciples to give exaggerated versions of the life of their Guru but we have carefully refrained from any such tendency particularly because of Swamiji's dislike of exaggeration. This epilogue has been divided into two sections : Section `A' deals with some incidents and experiences of Swamiji ' s life and Section 'B' contains a few of his teachings which, by no means, are exhaustive.

r rrzt i

rift ITT '1 ri r

uezftzrT era firzr 11 raft: grrf r: Urf r:


(Lead me from unreality to Reality Lead me from darkness to Light ! Lead me from death to Immortality! Om. Peace Peace Peace.)

197

Section 'A'

SUNDRY INCIDENTS (EXPERIENCES)


Swamiji was blessed by sages from early boyhood. He had visions also. There is a Peepul tree near the, famous Tiruvalla temple which Swamiji visits and prostrates himself before, whenever he visits that place. How this became a sacred place for him is mentioned below. When he was a boy he used to sit on the platform under the tree and recite the Bhagavatam every day. This was before he came in contact with Swami Nirmalananda. Many people, old and young, attended his recitals. One day he was sitting alone and meditating under the tree. All of a sudden an old man, looking like a Sannyasin, appeared before him and gave him. some spiritual instructions and blessed him. Then the Sadhu got down from the platform and disappeared within a minute or two. Swamiji tried his best to find him out but could not see him again. 198

Another time, on a Sivaratri night, he was in the temple. People who were keeping vigil, were sitting all around and reading some religious books. Swamiji happened to pass by a person who was reading the Bhagavad Gita. He was reading without understanding the meaning. He had no knowledge of Sanskrit either. He was, in fact, butchering the sacred text. Swamiji corrected his pronunciation. He was attracted by Swamiji's personality and requested him to explain the text. Swamiji (then Neelakanthan) complied with his request. Others who were reading scriptures nearby, happened to overhear his explanation and were attracted by it. They closed their books and came to listen to him. In a short time a huge crowd assembled and listened to him attentively. The first chapter was finished and he was reading the second. When he reached Sloka 69 he found he was unable to explain the meaning. He was embarrassed. To avoid creating a bad impression on the audience he thought of a trick. He told the people that it was already late, so he would continue on the next day. Immediately an old man, with long hair and grey beard got up and said, "Just explain that sloka and we will disperse." Neelakanthan was pale. He was quiet for a minute or two.

200
Suddenly the meaning of the sloka flashed across his mind and he explained it. All were pleased. The old man came to him and placing both his hands on his head blessed him. -He then passed the hands affectionately over his face and said, "My boy, your explanation was excellent. I am very pleased. You will become a great man some day. May Lord bless you." Swamiji believes that he was Tunchath Ezhuthachan who lived in the 16th century A. D. He was a great Bhakta and has translated Adhyatma Ramayana, Bhagavatam and some other scriptures into Malayalam. When he passed his hands over Swamiji's face and body, the latter felt a current passing through him. Even today when he describes the incident, his hair stand on end. * Now-a-days we see Swamiji when he has reached the zenith of his spiritual life and is in Sahaja Samadhi. He laughs and laughs like a child. But until a few years back he was not so. He neverallowed his own disciples to stay with him whether they were Brahmacharins or Sannyasins. To stay with him was like walking on a razor's edge. He would not tolerate laziness or carelessness on the part of disciples. If the vessels cleaned by them were a little dirty, he would

201
immediately send the disciple back to the Ganges to clean them again . At times he used a cane to make his disciples perfect in their work. He was a strict disciplinarian even when he was in the Ramakrishna Ashrama as a Brahmacharin. How he managed the Ashrama and trained young Brahmacharins is known only to those who had the opportunity of being with him during those days. One of them, Swami Nirvikarananda, at present the head of Sri Saradashrama, Ponnampet, Coorg, says in an articles as under:
....Neelakantha Bhaktan stayed in the Ramakrishna Mandiram and performed the daily Puja. Some of us used to attend the evening Arati. On holidays Sri Bhaktan would read some books and explain the text to us. Every evening before Arati everyone would sit and meditate for about fifteen minutes. After Arati, singing of Kirtan was done. On holidays the BhajanKirtan programme was carried out for a long time. On Sundays even elderly people attended his Bhaga1. Translated (from Malayalam) from a
Souvenir published by Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, the Silver Tiruvalla in 1955, commemorating Jubilee of the Ashrama in its new premises at Tukalasseri.

202
vata class. Sometimes it was the 'Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna' that he took for Satsang. During vacation' Sri Bhaktan's life of austerity attracted some of us also. Then the programme used to be as follows : " Early morning bathing in the river. Then, up to twelve noon, Japam, meditation and study of the Gita in the Ashrama. This was followed by lunch which consisted only of rice and buttermilk (occasionally, a piece of pickles may be there). At times when there were guests, the same quantity of rice had to be shared by all and we had to be satisfied with whatever we got. In the evening there was a light diet of fruits or boiled green gram (Moong). For bed, those who had a mat, would make use of it, others would spread a towel on the floor and sleep. Everyone would get up at four in the morning and practise meditation. All these austerities we practised with pleasure. There was no time for idle gossiping in the Ashrama. Sri Bhaktan never allowed any frivolous talk. He was very particular about it.........".
1. Swami Nirvikarananda and others were students at the time.

203
In this respect he was another Swami Nirmalananda. We see that in his life three personalities have played an important part - (1) Sri Ramakrishna whom he had chosen as his ideal for spiritual life, (2) Swami Brahmananda who initiated him and (3) Swami Nirmalananda under whose guidance he worked in the Ashrama for nearly twelve years. Those who are familiar with the `Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna' and his `Life' will see Sri Ramakrishna in Swamiji. Swamiji's innocent, child-like behaviour, love for children, the way he teaches the disciples and devotees, all remind us of Sri Ramakrishna. In Swamiji, as in Thakurl, we 'see a happy blending of Bhakti and Jnana. Swamiji is a confirmed Vedantin but he often goes into ecstasy on hearing sweet devotional music. When anybody suffers, it is his suffering. Even a plant has his sympathy. To give an example, not long ago a few mango-grafts had been planted in the Ashrama (Guha) garden. On the second day when he was coming down from his room, he noticed a plant near the staircase and rushed to it. Removing his upper garment he held it above the plant to protect it from the
1. Sri Ramakrishna.

205 204
sun and called us. When we approached, he asked us to provide shade for the new plants by fixing leaves of trees above them. His facial expression showed his feeling for the plant ! No wonder, he always says "Feel, feel for others." Likewise one sees Swami Brahmananda in him in various respects. Swamiji is referred to by the disciples and devotees as "Maharaj", a title by which Swami Brahmananda was familiarly known. Swamiji says to those who approach him "Meditate, meditate. Always think and think". He always asks "What do you want ? What do you want ?" Yet another common point between the two is Swamiji's love for Kanya Kumari. Even as Swami Brahmananda yearned to live there in a hut, Swamiji too does not like to move from Kanya Kumari, whenever he goes there. Like Swami Brahmanandaji, Swamiji was very reluctant in the matter of giving initiation. But these days he is more liberal. Not only in the Guha but wherever he goes a number of persons get themselves initiated by him. But he does not give Sannyasa for the mere asking. He is very discriminating. in regard to that. Thus we see in him Swami Nirmalananda, Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Brahmananda.
w s

Swamiji, at the age of eighty, is quite hale and hearty. Weather permitting, he bathes in the Ganges twice a day. When he goes to the Ganges, very often he washes his clothes himself although there are more than a dozen disciples living in the Ashrama who would love to do it for him. At times he walks so swiftly that a young man cannot keep pace with him. He says he feels like a child; he cannot believe that he is in his eightees. The secret of such health and agility, he says, is Brahmacharya. He is a Naishthika Brahmacharin. He laughs when young people come and complain that they are getting old; their children are suffering and the like. And his advice to young men (even if they are married) is to keep Brahtacharya (union for the sake of progeny is not considered as break in Brahmacharya by our Sastras.) His advice to his disciples is "If you have Brahmacharya, you have everything. If not, you have nothing" and he would often quote :

' 4rI:r z k RIN 1


$ zj xl T ^l c^ zl^tiit{9 11"1
1. We admire the Brahmacharya of the `purest ray' which results in Dharma, fame and longevity, and is a panacea for all the ailments of this world and the other,

206
Apart from the Bhagavatam, Tulsi Ramayana (Ramacharitamanasa) is a favourite book of Swamiji. His advice, an echo of Tulsi's words, is `q;qa aft'"Be sincere and true. Then the progress will be rapid." Even at this age, Swamiji never wastes his time. He is always busy. After morning bath and a cup of milk he sits down for meditation. After two or three hours he makes his disciples read the Gita, the Tulsi Ramayana and other texts, listening to them and explaining a Sloka or two now and then. Then food. Swamiji does not take food in a closed room. He sits in front of all, guests included, and takes food with them. There may be foreigners, Indian householders, Sannyasins and the Ashramites in the batch. Whatever is served in his plate is served to all. If there is something extra for him he orders that particular item to be distributed to all. After food he rests for half-an-hour and then goes through the correspondence and writes letters. Then he engages himself in reading some book. In the evening, after bathing, he sits again for meditation. Sometimes he pays a surprise visit to the garden, or to the room of some inmates, or supervise some work.

207
There is no fixed time to have -his Darshan. Except when the door is closed in the morning hours and after the light is off at night, visitors can see him and talk to him at any time. He is freely accessible to everybody. He never imposes restriction on anything or any body. Swamiji is a person of few words. He does not play with words. His letters also reflect this. Two or three lines will be all that he writes in reply to long letters. But that would be more than enough for the recipient. So to say, they are like aphorisms. `;qlvti it mrR (an ocean in a pot)' is the apt description of his writing. Mostly he writes letters himself. We know Swamiji started a junior High School. With great difficulty a building was also constructed. When the school started running smoothly, Swamiji felt his duty was over. He established a school in this backward area and after popularising education in these hilly parts, he asked the Government to take it over. He could have run it himself but that was not his aim. When the people of the locality were aroused, the shool was handed over to the Government in 1957.

208
209 Swamiji does not go on lecture tours. Seldom does he speak in large gatherings. Usually he holds Satsang and discourses. Wherever he camps there are discourses and reading of sacred texts. As we have said elsewhere, he is averse to praise and publicity. His way of training the disciples these days is on the basis of 'freedom for all'. He does not make hard and fast rules to be observed. He does not impose work on anybody; but every-, body works according to his taste and capacity. There is freedom in everything. If any disciple wants to go anywhere, he does not stop him. If he feels that it may not be beneficial, he may give a hint about it. But the disciple is free to act as he likes. Even if all the inmates want to go he will not stand in their way. And he does not depend on anybody. He has got the independent spirit of a youth.

that his disciples and devotees get his permission to print any of his works. Unlike modern Ashramas Swamiji has not given a `commercial touch' to the Ashrama. How does the Ashrama run then? It is a mystery. Often there are many guests, Sadhus as well as householders and all are served food. Swamiji says ever since he established himself in the cave, nobody has gone without food. And he does not ask for financial help from anybody. The only explanation that can be offered for this is "The Grace of God". The Ashrama runs in a unique manner. A word about Vasishtha Guba. This is a natural cave. The depth of the cave is about fifty-five feet but it looks like two compartments, the front portion being about twenty feet with a width of twelve feet.

Swamiji's works are very few. He has written some Stotras and articles and composed a few songs. Not being interested in getting them printed, he has given away the manuscript to some friends, and some have been eaten away by white ants. It is with great difficulty

211 lities one becomes weak. One must be ^ :'-The Self is strong. `^T^fAi t rt ^^ not attained by weaklings"" "Bhakti : one must have: *Sincere love towards God will only lead to the higher state. Unless you have Bhakti, you will not love Him with all your heart and- soul. Leave everything to Him and love Him; live in His ^ t (remembrance). He will do the rest."
" ....Do Japam twice daily. Unless the mind is made steady, unless the d wanderings m, the

Section 'B'

STRAY TEACHINGS
Many of the teachings given below were given originally to individuals; some were given to groups of people. We give in the following pages what may be of interest to others. These are from the `private' note book of a discipleo Since these were given on different occasions and in different circumstances it is likely that there is no sequence in them. * * * "Everybody has created a world of his own. You have created a world of yours, I have created mine. We should destroy this creation (imagination that we are so and so......etc.) and feel that we are in the hands of the Lord. Then only will we be free." "One should observe Brahmacharya sincerely and honestly. By observing Brahmacharya one gets strength to face all difficulties. By indulging in sensua-

meditat onawillcnotkbe through Jap successful." * * *

"Love Him. What is wanted is Love. Blessed is he who can LOVE-LOVE-LOVE."

"Who is a great man?-He who has no wants." "Make a vacuum in the mind. Pump out all materialism, and Divinity will enter. Then you are always in Sahaja Samadhi, not lifeless like a rock abu one with the Self whether you eat, play, work

210

or fight."

212 "What do we know after all ? We know nothing. So be plain and open your heart to God. We can only do that." Talking of Divine Grace one day, Swamiji said : "All your desires will be fulfilled if you rely on Him. Yes, yes. But who knows God and who believes in Him?" * * *
"The Desire to know Him should be intense. Keep the Desire fresh ALWAYS."

213
During a discourse : "Senses are rogues. You may think you have succeeded in controlling them. You may say you are free from them. But a little weakness in yo U will make you fall a prey to the senses. They are always looking for an opportunity to i, down in push you in (the ditch. So be careful always-A1 wWa y s ke u wake up! "swt, p^ p. Don't sleep)." "If you hold a pillar and go round and round you won't fall'. What is the meaning of it?' Hold Him tightly. If your mind has a firm hold of Him, even if it wanders throughout the world you won't be affected. But if there is no firm hold, you will only fall. So hold Him firmly." Seventy-ninth Birthday Message of Sri Swamiji (1. 12. 1957) This is the greatest wonder. One thing is always with us. Wherever we go it follows us unmistakably. Do know here death. what it is-This is what is called who When we are to go from knows. But every action of us will make one believe that we are to live and live long. You are at once caught. A have to come back again again.

* * "If you want to go east, you must not even look back at west. Go on. Boldly march on". * (During Satsang) "When you are hungry you go here and there to seek food. If you are hungry for Truth, you will not be attracted by anything material. What is all this ? All false-It has no permanent existence. Now it is with you and you are satisfied, The next moment it may go away-or you may go away. So what is permanent? Your hunger must be for that which will be permanent. So always be hungry for Truth. Blessed are those who are hungry for Truth-hungry for the Lord."

214 Please do think of this-you are all very intelligent. But do you see you are already in the mouth of Death? How can -you overcome death? It is very easy. Think, think what you are. The fire cannot burn it, water does not drown it, wind cannot blow it. Yes, you are of that stuff. I am the real Self. All free and All Happy-One without a second. Everywhere "I" and "I"-Sat Chit Anand. Please try to realize it. * Message delivered by Swarniji on his eightieth birthday celebrated on Twentyfirst November, 1958. (Birthdays are celebrated according to Hindu Calendar, on the day of the Janma Nakshatra-the star in which one is born.) OM What is it that you want? Unless you clearly know it, how can you search for it ? There is no doubt that everybody wants happiness alone. Every action seen here is for that-to get happiness. Nobody wants unhappiness, misery or sorrow. The question then is whether you are happy. You ask the whole world. Everybody will say `I am not happy', `I have no daughters,' `I have no sons,' `I have no wealth, no property',

215
`I don't pass my examinations.' You will see that everybody is unhappy. What is the cause for this ? When their greatest desire is happiness, why is it that they are getting unhappiness. Let us therefore examine and see how one can be happy. The difficulty is that you think that all your surroundings are yours even though they vanish the next moment. You say, "This is my husband, my wife, my child, my property"-but whose wife? Whose property? That alone is yours which will remain with you for ever. In things and persons, who may disappear the next moment, you put `my', `mine'. So you are suffering. This Wu itKi is called `Maya'. What is `Maya ?' You put `my' and `mine' in the things that will vanish the next moment. You have no right, to call them `mine'-the things which will go. So everybody is suffering. So even though one seeks for happiness all the time, he is following a wrong way and therefore does not get happiness.

'u 1TUrt Er Okwnufa ft p`


Out of thousands and thousands of p ersons, one tries to get happiness in the right way. And the happiness, where is it? It is not far away. You need

216
not go to Badri or Kailas for it. It is very near. I t is your birth-right. But you do not know that. When do you get happiness, do you know? Now you are all happy, why? Because your mind is calm. So whenever the mind is calm one gets happiness, not from external objects. So make the mind calm in the right way. One embraces a lady and he gets happiness. What is the cause? For a moment the mind becomes. calm and quiet. So he feels happy. He thinks it is from the lady. One drinks sherbet or toddy and he is getting happiness from drinks. But really it is from inside that he becomes happy. So every time you get happiness , you are getting it not from external things but from within and within alone. Please note this carefully . Just as you get the clear and nice reflection of the sun or moon in a pot of calm and still water and not when the water is shaking, happiness is reflected in the bottom of the mind when the mind is calm and quiet. So know this first. You are all intelligent. Utilise that intelligence. Do not search for happiness anywhere outside. Search inside alone. Go inside. What are you after all, my friend ? What are you? Everyday you say 'I' 'I' a thousand times. What is this 'I'. Find it out. The seer is separate from

217
the object seen . This is the established truth. Now I shall take you very quickly to the 'I'-to that real 'I.' Did you understand that the seer is always separate from the object seen. I am seeing you, I am not you. I am separate from you. So here I am seeing my body ; I am not the body. You can say boldly and fearlessly that I am not the body, I am apart from it. I am seeing my mind, my buddhi, the ego, so I am apart from the mind, buddhi, etc. So the Rishis have said,

faatf'r 9.rt, a Wr r fad a s !TtUi * I T W arhq Mot 9 f1mmi k Vr: fer tst fwa'tsIR 11
wq^w ZT 1
I am not the body, nor the mind, nor the Antahkarana. I am that happiness -Sat Chit Anand. There is something in the body. Though it is inside , it is separate from it. Just as I am separate from you, it is separate from the body, mind etc. So know that. What is the method for that ? Do not search outside. Suppose you have got a precious jewel. You do not throw it outside. You keep it in the room in a box and that in a bigger box, inside, inside and inside. Now if you search

outside, throughout the world, just like the musk deer, how can you get it. The kasturi is inside in its navel and the scent spreads outside. So the beast searches outside. It has no intelligence. But you have got intelligence, so search inside, inside and inside alone. How then to go inside ? Know that all you see, touch etc. is untrue. You have not to go anywhere. Have no attachment to wife, husband, property etc. This attachment is hell. Non-attachment is happiness. So be detached.
m ft

GLOSSARY
Achaman
A purificatory ceremony during religious rites by sipping water from the right palm. Pertaining to the Atman, Spiritual. Non-dual ; a philosophy expounded by Sri, Sankaracharya. Chanting the name of God without a break. Charitable institution distributing alms to Sadhus and destitutes. The subtle inner organ (faculty). Half-term (six-yearly) fair celebrated on the banks of certain holy rivers. Hermitage. A devotional composition by Jayadeva. An ayurvedic medicine of a liquid nature. A Prince-warrior of Mahabharata. Lit. eight ayurvedic doctors. (Refers to the eight families in Kerala, divinely blessed in the art of healing, each specialised

Adhyatma
Advaita Akhandanama Kirtan Annakshetra .

fgaFr-r: gzgtgnTf a:

So try to detach from the 'outside world and go inside and inside. With the Grace of God and Guru and others you shall attain happiness in no time. 9TZTFfT7T qcr q; :r ffur :

Antahkarana Ardha Kumbha

And this Atman is not meant for the weaklings. One must be very brave ; one must be very strong. , Always watch and make the mind stronger and stronger.

Ashrams Ashtapadi Arishtam Arjuna Ashta Vaidya

aP rTf cT : rrf a : r rf r :

2
in a particular branch and considered authority in his field). The Self. Flour. An ancient system of Medicine prevalent in India. An expression of respect used for old people, particularly for saints. A sacred book of the Hindus. God. A famous Hindu mythology. Devotional songs. A devotee. Devotion. Alms. One who lives on alms. Food offerings to God. A religious student, celibate, who lives with his Guru, devoted to study and service. Celibacy, chastity ; the stage of life of Vedic study in which chastity and service are essential. An authoritative book of aphorisms on Vedanta. Intellect. Bread prepared in Indian fashion. A halting stage. An aspect of Lord Siva worshipped as the Supreme Teacher. Pluses. Seeing a Deity or revered personality with devotion Deeksha Deepas Deepavali Devi

3
and awe.
Initiation ; certain vows. Lights. A famous festival of lights. Goddess. Minister of the former Indian State. Abode. Sagittarius, a sign of Zodiac. Religion, duty, righteousness. A charitable institution for the stay of pilgrims. The elephant-headed God, remover of obstacles. The bird-king, Lord Vishnu's vehicle. The Goddess of Purity. A Sanskrit idyll composed by Jayadeva, displaying alternatively the earthly and celestial love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Companions to Radha. A cave. Preceptor. A religious sacrifice in which oblations are offered to Gods in the fire. Pertaining to birth. Repetition of mantras. Birthday celebration of Gods and saints. Spiritual knowledge. Linga (idol of Lord Siva) of Light. Cape Comorin , a town in the southern-most tip of India. Musk. Charitable institution.

Atman Atta Ayurveda

Dewan , Diwan .
Dham Dhanu Lagna Dharma Dharmasala Ganesha Garuda Gayatri Gita Govindam :

Baba
Bhagavad Gita Bhagavan Bhagavatam Bhajan Bhakta or Bhaktan Bhakti Bhiksha Bhikshu Bhog Brahmacharin Brahmacharya

Gopis Guha Guru Havan Homa

Brahma Sutras : Buddhi Chappatis Chatti Dakshina Moorti Dal Darshana

Janma Japa, Japam Jayanti


Juana Jyotirlinga Kanya Kumar! Kasturi Kshetra

5
Kumbha Mela Leela Mahadeva Mahant Maharaja Maha Samadhi: Maha Sivaratri: Mandap A festival celebrated on the banks of certain holy rivers. Play, the unexplainable ways of Providence. A name of Lord Siva. Head of a religious institution. King. The leaving of the mortal body by a saint. Annual night dedicated to the worship of Lord S iva. A place specially erected for religious and other functions. Heads of certain monastic institutions. A sacred formula. Monastic institution. A fair. Silence. Sage. A judicial officer. Food offerings to God. A Kerala Brahmin. Darshan of a deity (generally in the morning) when the previous days dress and decorations are removed for Abhishekam The highest kind of Samadhi in which all relative ideas are transcended and the Atman is realised as It is. A life-long celibate. Sound symbol of Brahman. One belonging to the hills. Panda , Purohit, Pundit Prana Pranayama Puja Pujari Purushasuktam Puma Kumbha: Priest. Vital force. Exercises intended to control the Prana. Worship. One who does Puja. A portion of Vedas. Twelve-yearly fair celebrated on the banks of certain holy waters. King One of the great Epics. Ramayana as told by Goswami Tulsidas. Bread prepared in Indian style. Monk Confluence of rivers. Renunciation. One who has renounced the world and dedicated himself to spiritual realisation. Week. Scriptures. Eixtence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute (Brahman). Company of holy personage. Service. Home of Service. Faith (in Scriptures and Guru's teachings). Offerings of food to manes. The eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who gave the Bhagavad Gita. The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Mandaleswars : Mantram Math Mela Mowana Muni Munsiff Naivedyam Nambudiri Nirmalya Darshan

Raja Ramayana Ramacharitamansa Roti


Sadhu Sangam Sannyasa

Sannyasin

Saptha Sastras Sat Chit Anand : Satsang Seva Sevashrama Sxaddha

Nirvikalpa. Samadhi

Naishthika Brahn^acharin: Om Pahadi

Sraddha
Sri Krishna Sri Rama

6
Stotras Tapasya Tirtha Tulsi Mala Uddhava Vaidya or Vaidyan Vairagya Vedic Viraja Homa Vishnu Sahasranama Hymns. Penance. Pilgrimage. A rosary. Minister and disciple of Sri Krishna Ayurvedic doctor. Dispassion. Of the Vedas. A homa which is part of the Sannyasa rites. names of A thousand Lord Vishnu. A Hindu calendar month. Sacrifice. Pilgrimage.

Vrischikam Yajna Yatra

Похожие интересы